First Liver Cancer ‘Chemo-Bath’ in the UK

For the first time in the UK, doctors have been able to target harmful cancer drugs to an isolated organ in the body through a “chemo-bath.”

Chemotherapy has always been a brutal form of treatment, as it kills healthy cells along with cancer cells. Regular chemotherapy involves injecting drugs into patients’ veins. The drugs thus reach the entire body. Side effects include exhaustion, nausea, hair loss, and decreased fertility.

Medical staff at Southampton General Hospital are examining how isolating a single organ for treatment can lessen devastating side effects. They are further claiming that chemo-baths will allow higher doses of the drugs to be administered without producing life-threatening damage.

Two patients suffering from a rare eye cancer that had since spread to the liver, underwent chemotherapy that targeted their livers. The recent chemo-baths required doctors to use inflated balloons within the blood vessels adjacent to the organ. The balloon separated the liver from the rest of the organs in the patient’s body.

The doctors injected chemo drugs into the liver, but cleaned them from the system before the liver’s blood supply entered the rest of the body. This prevented nearly all of the chemo medication from leaving the liver.

Dr. Brian Stedman is a consultant interventional radiologist. He praised the recent treatment, saying: “To cut off an organ from the body for 60 minutes, soak it in a high dose of drug and then filter the blood almost completely clean before returning is truly groundbreaking.”

Stedman expanded upon the benefits of chemo-baths. “Previously,” he explained, “the outlook for patients specifically suffering from cancer which has spread to the liver has been poor because standard chemotherapy’s effect is limited by the unwanted damage the drug causes to the rest of the body.”

In an interview with the BBC, Stedman said that, “In 20 years’ time the idea of injecting a drug which poisons the whole body for a cancer in just one small area will seem bonkers.”

The two patients who received chemo-bath treatment in the last quarter-year are recovering and their tumors seem to be shrinking.

According to Stedman, such a technique could be applied any organ that is easily separated from the body blood flow. This includes the kidney, pancreas, and lungs. Despite his optimism, Stedman emphasized that the treatment is still in its early phase.

Chemo-bath treatments are undergoing testing in the USA and Europe.

Roger Federer Loses Third Title in a Row to Djokovic

The 2012 tennis season ended on a low for Roger Federer as he lost his third title in a row to champion Novak Djokovic at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. In a high-stakes, high-class final at the O2 Arena in London, the 31-year-old gave it his all, but was ultimately unable to best Djokovic and went down 7-6 (8/6) 7-5.

Although Federer is the most senior player of the top four competitors in the sport, being five years older than Rafael Nadal and six years older than Djokovic and Andy Murray, he is determined to begin the 2013 season competing harder than ever.

“I think it’s the love for the game, the appreciation I get from the crowds,” he said, when asked about his commitment to the sport. “I think you need inspiration, motivation from different angles to keep you going because it isn’t that simple just to wake up every morning and go for another travel around the world, another practice, another fitness workout, another stretch.”

Another source of motivation for Federer is his ability to inspire the next generation of tennis players. He remarks, “I love playing against particularly young guys just because, to many, sometimes I’m an idol, which is very strange to me, to be honest. But it’s nice seeing them grow, see what the next generation comes up with. So, for me, that would suffice as well.”

Despite the less-than-ideal ending to this season, the Swiss star is nonetheless satisfied with what he achieved in 2012, wrapping up the year with a seventh Wimbledon title and an Olympic silver medal.

“I think it’s been a fantastic season to be part of,” he said. “Four different grand slam champions, then having the Olympics as well was obviously very unique.”

Federer will enjoy a two-week holiday before an exhibition tour in South America next month, and then he will begin his training and preparations for the 2013 season. “I need to practice a whole lot more next year,” he said. “I have some catching up to do from that standpoint.”

Analysts Estimate PPI Compensation Package Can Reach £16 Billion

Currently, the UK PPI crisis is now estimated to have a total of £12.96 billion in bank expenses for repaying all customers mis sold the insurance policy but financial analysts estimate that the amount can still increase next year. With over a 150% growth in the number of PPI claims from 2011 to 2012 and the Financial Ombudsman receiving 1,500 claims on a daily basis, analysts estimate the amount can reach up to £16 billion halfway next year.

All UK banks have set aside additional money for compensating all who are mis sold PPI. Lloyds still leads after setting aside £1 million more to add to their already-existing £5.3 billion PPI bill. Barclays, at £2 billion, is now at £2.7 billion after setting aside £700 million more for PPI. RBS reaches £1.7 after setting aside £400 million and HSBC is now at £1.3, setting aside an additional £220 million.

Claims management companies were criticised by banks for capitalizing on consumer claims and “clogging” the process with almost 1/5 of the claims appearing duplicated or fraudulent. However, CMCs like MisSoldPPIClaimsCo.co.uk, state that they thoroughly look through every claim they receive. They also mention that if the bank did what the Financial Services Authority asked them to do, there will be no PPI industry from CMCs.

Early this year, the FSA asked all UK banks who mis sold PPI to write to potentially mis sold customers. However, banks never fully performed the task, seeing the great number of bogus claims coming from many customers. Banks also blame the FSA for the increased number of PPI claims, increasing their bureaucratic costs.

The Financial Ombudsman Service proposed a no-claim payout for consumers because the service saw that banks were “dragging their feet” in resolving the situation. The no-claim payout compensates the mis sold consumer without having to make a claim as crediting and insurance companies will work directly with the regulator in identifying the cases.

Bing Search Engine a Competitor for Google?

Google may have a new competitor to contend with, as it watched its search share in the UK dip below 90 percent in October for the first time in five years. According to experts, if this share loss continues Microsoft’s Bing search engine will have overtaken Google by February 2016.

The threat is small, for now. Indeed, the dip might even be considered insignificant for some, as Google’s UK search share went from 90.74 percent in September to 89.33 percent, a fall of 1.41 percentage points. Bing, on the other hand, upped its share to 4.71 percent, an increase of 0.72 percentage points. Search engine Yahoo picked up almost all of the remaining percentage points of Google’s loss, with Ask and some other engines getting a small amount as well.

Although Bing is still losing millions every quarter, Experian, which owns the Internet tracking company Hitwise, notes that Bing has raised its search share by almost one full percentage point in 2012, with October representing a peak in search share percentage.

Experian suggests that one reason behind Google’s dip and Bing’s improvement is Microsoft’s launch of Windows 8 in October, where Bing is the default search engine.

Since Windows 8 was not officially launched until October 25th, it seems unlikely that there was enough time for Windows 8 users to suddenly switch from Google to Bing. However, this could affect the search share results of November, and Bing could see a further rise in percentage points if users keep it as their default instead of setting it to Google.

Experian digital insights manager James Murray suggests that one reason for the change is that people are changing their search patterns. Increasingly, people are searching through social media sites, with Facebook being the largest one. Facebook’s default search engine is Bing.

“That could be part of it,” says Murray. “People are looking these days for the best and most relevant search results. I think Bing, which has been a minor player, is starting to come to prominence.”