Tag Archives: treatment’

HIV treatment has come a long way – but there’s still work to do

Gonorrhoea. Syphilis. Words my patients hear and tend to shudder at. But sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, have been around for centuries, unfussy about whose genitalia they infect and ready to wreak whole-body havoc on those who don’t access testing and treatment.

Luckily UK sexual health clinics, like the one I work in, have been providing STI care for years – 100 years in fact as 2017 marks the centenary of the 1917 Venereal Disease Act. The act forbade the unsafe treatment of STIs by the unqualified and complemented the public health (venereal diseases) regulations of the previous year, which demanded free, confidential services to diagnose and treat STIs, and paved the way for the creation of the NHS 30 years later. Both pieces of legislation followed the 1913 royal commission on venereal diseases, which reported during the first world war when STI rates among troops were sky-high and Lord Kitchener’s advice to soldiers was having little effect. “In this new experience you may find temptations both in wine and women. You must entirely resist both.”

This recognition of the need for education, prevention and access to sexual health care marked the start of an incredible journey towards healthy sex and relationships for all. The 1920s saw the production of the first latex condom – a happy alternative to sheaths made of lamb intestine or animal horn. In 1928, Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, an antibiotic later found to cure syphilis and which remains a first-line treatment for the infection today. In 1960, the oral contraceptive pill was introduced, followed by continuous advancements in family planning that would empower millions of women worldwide. And in 2008, the human papilloma virus (HPV) national immunisation programme was introduced for teenage girls, a vaccination that protects 300,000 young women a year against deadly cervical cancers and highly transmittable genital warts.

In a time of austerity, when sexual and reproductive health budget cuts of more than 20% mean clinic closures and the loss of resources, never has this hard work and progress felt so precious. Reports show sexual health services have been the hardest hit by reduced funding and I see first-hand the effects of this disinvestment. Staff cutbacks, reduced opening hours and fading morale are all grim realities facing my specialty, putting patients at risk, leaving the most vulnerable voiceless and paving the way for more STIs, antibiotic resistance, unplanned pregnancy, sexual abuse and female genital mutilation (FGM).

To celebrate the achievements made over the past century and to illustrate the work left to do, the British Association of Sexual Health (Bashh) has made a short film to remind us of how far we’ve come and how essential it is to protect the rights we have. The film complements a podcast Bashh has co-produced with the National Archives, aptly named A Bit of a Scratch.

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest achievements in sexual health has been the advances in HIV care. The year 1981 heralded the start of one of the greatest public health challenges in history: a virus with no cure and seemingly no rhyme or reason as to whether those infected would survive to their next birthday. The introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (Haart) in 1996 transformed a terminal disease into a chronic, manageable condition – a bona fide result of teamwork between patients and professionals who shared the common goal of survival.

The focus is now on rolling treatment out to those who need it and preventing HIV transmission. The recent Proud trial showed the preventative powers of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), when antiretroviral therapy is taken to prevent acquisition of HIV. A lack of investment means PrEP is still not available on the NHS, despite its use contributing to a 32% reduction in new HIV diagnoses in London’s sexual health clinics. In the absence of funding many clinics, including my own, have set up PrEP centres that provide support and monitoring for people who obtain PrEP over the internet – the cheapest way of getting the drug and avoiding a life-changing HIV diagnosis.

Of further concern are the high rates of undiagnosed infection, with 13% of those living with HIV unaware they have it [pdf]. Thirty-nine per cent of those diagnosed with HIV in 2015 were diagnosed at a late stage, increasing their risk of death tenfold. Where I work in south London, two-thirds of patients are from black and minority ethnic communities, which remain isolated and at high risk of HIV acquisition and late diagnosis. Only a considered, well-funded approach will be able to turn these statistics around.

The need for investment in sexual and reproductive health services is crystal clear. I, alongside the sexual health community, call on the government to be inspired by and to continue the incredible progress of the past 100 years. Too many lives have been lost to preventable situations – there are no excuses to lose any more.

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‘There’s nothing to lose’: Charlie Gard’s mother pleads for US treatment

The mother of the critically ill baby Charlie Gard has called for permission to take him to the US for experimental treatment because “there’s nothing to lose”.

Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, spoke to supporters and members of the press at a rally on Sunday near Great Ormond Street hospital, where he is being treated.

Gard said the hospital was fantastic and its doctors were specialists in a lot of conditions, but not Charlie’s. “The specialists are in America and that’s where we want to go,” he said.

“He should have had this chance a long time ago now. They said that it wasn’t fair to leave him on the ventilator for three months for a treatment they didn’t think was going to work. He’s now been left for seven months with no treatment.”

Acknowledging the treatment only had a 10% chance of working, Yates said it was worth trying anyway. “He’s our son, he’s our flesh and blood. We feel that it should be our right as parents to decide to give him a chance at life. There is nothing to lose, he deserves a chance.”

Thanking the public and the press for their support, she added: “Let’s get Charlie the treatment he deserves. If he is still fighting, we are still fighting.”

Later Yates said: “I absolutely believe this medication will work. I’m not a doctor but I feel like I am an expert in his condition now.”

She accepts not everyone would agree with her and her partner’s position but maintains their son is not suffering.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there in the media, but that happens, you’ve got to take that,” she said. “But basically we wouldn’t be able to sit there and watch him in pain and suffering.

“We’re not like that, we’re not evil. We’re not doing this for us. He’s our son. We want what’s best for him.”

The case will return to the high court on Monday afternoon to hear fresh arguments following claims of “new information” from researchers at the Vatican’s children’s hospital.

The couple spoke after two congressmen said Charlie should be given residency in the US so he can receive the treatment in the country. Gard and Yates are also preparing to launch a renewed legal bid for treatment.

The Republican congressmen Brad Wenstrup and Trent Franks are expected to table a bill in the US House of Representatives on Monday to bring Charlie and his parents to the US.

In a joint statement, the US politicians said: “Our bill will support Charlie’s parents’ right to choose what is best for their son, by making Charlie a lawful permanent resident in the US in order for him to receive treatments that could save his life.

“Should this little boy to be ordered to die because a third party, overriding the wishes of his parents, believes it can conclusively determine that immediate death is what is best for him?”

Connie Yates and Chris Gard with their son Charlie Gard


Connie Yates and Chris Gard with their son Charlie Gard. Photograph: PA

Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the considerable media attention and interventions made by individuals such as the pope and Donald Trump had been “unhelpful”.

In an open letter, Modi said she had been asked why doctors have not commented on the specifics of the case.

She said: “The reason is the duty of doctor-patient confidentiality. This means that only the family, the doctors treating Charlie, and now the legal teams involved know the details of complex issues that define his situation.

“These issues – unknown to us and all those voicing opinions – will have been considered very carefully in reaching any decision. This is why interventions by external agencies or individuals, no matter how well-intended, are unhelpful.”

As well as being heartbreaking for his parents, Modi said the situation has also been difficult for everyone involved, including the doctors and nurses looking after him.

“Unfortunately situations such as this that involve withdrawing life-sustaining treatment are not uncommon and fall within the responsibilities of many paediatricians.”

Decisions on withdrawing life support are “not made lightly” and often never reach the courts, she added.

On Sunday, the justice secretary said it was right for the courts to decide on what was in the 11-month-old’s best interests, adding that the government had no role to play in the case.

The lord chancellor, David Lidington, expressed sympathy with the judges involved in the “heartwrenching” case when asked whether it was right that judges could overrule the wishes of Charlie’s parents.

Lidington said on Sky News’ Ridge On Sunday: “It is right that judges interpret the law, independently and dispassionately. As ministers and as a government we have no role to play in the Charlie Gard case, as would be the case in any other proceeding in court.”

He added: “I do not envy the judges who are having to take decisions on this. It must be incredibly pressured – probably emotional, under the judicial professionalism, a really emotional, heartwrenching case for them to have to decide.

“But they are independent, they know their duty is to decide the case on the basis of what they genuinely consider to be in the best interests of Charlie himself.

More than 375,000 people have signed a petition that asks the hospital to follow the wishes of Charlie’s parents, which was handed to doctors during the protest. It reads: “It is unacceptable that you have refused to follow the wishes of his parents and have instead decided to remove his life support, which will kill him.”

The children’s hospital previously won an order to say his life support should be turned off in a case that went all the way to the European court of human rights. They said his condition, caused by a rare mitochondrial disease, was irreversible and that further treatment could cause him suffering.

The degenerative genetic condition affects the cells responsible for energy production and respiration, leaving Charlie unable to move or breathe without a ventilator.

On Friday, it was announced that the hospital had applied to the high court for a new hearing to decide whether Charlie should be given the experimental drug, as urged by doctors in the US and Rome.

Under a high court ruling, the hospital is forbidden from allowing Charlie to be transferred for nucleoside therapy anywhere. It also calls for Charlie’s artificial ventilation to be withdrawn, and for him to receive palliative care only.

The fresh court battle was welcomed by the family. Yates said on Friday: “We are quite happy with this outcome and we are hopeful and confident that Charlie may get his chance now.”

‘There’s nothing to lose’: Charlie Gard’s mother pleads for US treatment

The mother of the critically ill baby Charlie Gard has called for permission to take him to the US for experimental treatment because “there’s nothing to lose”.

Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, spoke to supporters and members of the press at a rally on Sunday near Great Ormond Street hospital, where he is being treated.

Gard said the hospital was fantastic and its doctors were specialists in a lot of conditions, but not Charlie’s. “The specialists are in America and that’s where we want to go,” he said.

“He should have had this chance a long time ago now. They said that it wasn’t fair to leave him on the ventilator for three months for a treatment they didn’t think was going to work. He’s now been left for seven months with no treatment.”

Acknowledging the treatment only had a 10% chance of working, Yates said it was worth trying anyway. “He’s our son, he’s our flesh and blood. We feel that it should be our right as parents to decide to give him a chance at life. There is nothing to lose, he deserves a chance.”

Thanking the public and the press for their support, she added: “Let’s get Charlie the treatment he deserves. If he is still fighting, we are still fighting.”

Later Yates said: “I absolutely believe this medication will work. I’m not a doctor but I feel like I am an expert in his condition now.”

She accepts not everyone would agree with her and her partner’s position but maintains their son is not suffering.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there in the media, but that happens, you’ve got to take that,” she said. “But basically we wouldn’t be able to sit there and watch him in pain and suffering.

“We’re not like that, we’re not evil. We’re not doing this for us. He’s our son. We want what’s best for him.”

The case will return to the high court on Monday afternoon to hear fresh arguments following claims of “new information” from researchers at the Vatican’s children’s hospital.

The couple spoke after two congressmen said Charlie should be given residency in the US so he can receive the treatment in the country. Gard and Yates are also preparing to launch a renewed legal bid for treatment.

The Republican congressmen Brad Wenstrup and Trent Franks are expected to table a bill in the US House of Representatives on Monday to bring Charlie and his parents to the US.

In a joint statement, the US politicians said: “Our bill will support Charlie’s parents’ right to choose what is best for their son, by making Charlie a lawful permanent resident in the US in order for him to receive treatments that could save his life.

“Should this little boy to be ordered to die because a third party, overriding the wishes of his parents, believes it can conclusively determine that immediate death is what is best for him?”

Connie Yates and Chris Gard with their son Charlie Gard


Connie Yates and Chris Gard with their son Charlie Gard. Photograph: PA

Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the considerable media attention and interventions made by individuals such as the pope and Donald Trump had been “unhelpful”.

In an open letter, Modi said she had been asked why doctors have not commented on the specifics of the case.

She said: “The reason is the duty of doctor-patient confidentiality. This means that only the family, the doctors treating Charlie, and now the legal teams involved know the details of complex issues that define his situation.

“These issues – unknown to us and all those voicing opinions – will have been considered very carefully in reaching any decision. This is why interventions by external agencies or individuals, no matter how well-intended, are unhelpful.”

As well as being heartbreaking for his parents, Modi said the situation has also been difficult for everyone involved, including the doctors and nurses looking after him.

“Unfortunately situations such as this that involve withdrawing life-sustaining treatment are not uncommon and fall within the responsibilities of many paediatricians.”

Decisions on withdrawing life support are “not made lightly” and often never reach the courts, she added.

On Sunday, the justice secretary said it was right for the courts to decide on what was in the 11-month-old’s best interests, adding that the government had no role to play in the case.

The lord chancellor, David Lidington, expressed sympathy with the judges involved in the “heartwrenching” case when asked whether it was right that judges could overrule the wishes of Charlie’s parents.

Lidington said on Sky News’ Ridge On Sunday: “It is right that judges interpret the law, independently and dispassionately. As ministers and as a government we have no role to play in the Charlie Gard case, as would be the case in any other proceeding in court.”

He added: “I do not envy the judges who are having to take decisions on this. It must be incredibly pressured – probably emotional, under the judicial professionalism, a really emotional, heartwrenching case for them to have to decide.

“But they are independent, they know their duty is to decide the case on the basis of what they genuinely consider to be in the best interests of Charlie himself.

More than 375,000 people have signed a petition that asks the hospital to follow the wishes of Charlie’s parents, which was handed to doctors during the protest. It reads: “It is unacceptable that you have refused to follow the wishes of his parents and have instead decided to remove his life support, which will kill him.”

The children’s hospital previously won an order to say his life support should be turned off in a case that went all the way to the European court of human rights. They said his condition, caused by a rare mitochondrial disease, was irreversible and that further treatment could cause him suffering.

The degenerative genetic condition affects the cells responsible for energy production and respiration, leaving Charlie unable to move or breathe without a ventilator.

On Friday, it was announced that the hospital had applied to the high court for a new hearing to decide whether Charlie should be given the experimental drug, as urged by doctors in the US and Rome.

Under a high court ruling, the hospital is forbidden from allowing Charlie to be transferred for nucleoside therapy anywhere. It also calls for Charlie’s artificial ventilation to be withdrawn, and for him to receive palliative care only.

The fresh court battle was welcomed by the family. Yates said on Friday: “We are quite happy with this outcome and we are hopeful and confident that Charlie may get his chance now.”

‘There’s nothing to lose’: Charlie Gard’s mother pleads for US treatment

The mother of the critically ill baby Charlie Gard has called for permission to take him to the US for experimental treatment because “there’s nothing to lose”.

Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, spoke to supporters and members of the press at a rally on Sunday near Great Ormond Street hospital, where he is being treated.

Gard said the hospital was fantastic and its doctors were specialists in a lot of conditions, but not Charlie’s. “The specialists are in America and that’s where we want to go,” he said.

“He should have had this chance a long time ago now. They said that it wasn’t fair to leave him on the ventilator for three months for a treatment they didn’t think was going to work. He’s now been left for seven months with no treatment.”

Acknowledging the treatment only had a 10% chance of working, Yates said it was worth trying anyway. “He’s our son, he’s our flesh and blood. We feel that it should be our right as parents to decide to give him a chance at life. There is nothing to lose, he deserves a chance.”

Thanking the public and the press for their support, she added: “Let’s get Charlie the treatment he deserves. If he is still fighting, we are still fighting.”

Later Yates said: “I absolutely believe this medication will work. I’m not a doctor but I feel like I am an expert in his condition now.”

She accepts not everyone would agree with her and her partner’s position but maintains their son is not suffering.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there in the media, but that happens, you’ve got to take that,” she said. “But basically we wouldn’t be able to sit there and watch him in pain and suffering.

“We’re not like that, we’re not evil. We’re not doing this for us. He’s our son. We want what’s best for him.”

The case will return to the high court on Monday afternoon to hear fresh arguments following claims of “new information” from researchers at the Vatican’s children’s hospital.

The couple spoke after two congressmen said Charlie should be given residency in the US so he can receive the treatment in the country. Gard and Yates are also preparing to launch a renewed legal bid for treatment.

The Republican congressmen Brad Wenstrup and Trent Franks are expected to table a bill in the US House of Representatives on Monday to bring Charlie and his parents to the US.

In a joint statement, the US politicians said: “Our bill will support Charlie’s parents’ right to choose what is best for their son, by making Charlie a lawful permanent resident in the US in order for him to receive treatments that could save his life.

“Should this little boy to be ordered to die because a third party, overriding the wishes of his parents, believes it can conclusively determine that immediate death is what is best for him?”

Connie Yates and Chris Gard with their son Charlie Gard


Connie Yates and Chris Gard with their son Charlie Gard. Photograph: PA

Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the considerable media attention and interventions made by individuals such as the pope and Donald Trump had been “unhelpful”.

In an open letter, Modi said she had been asked why doctors have not commented on the specifics of the case.

She said: “The reason is the duty of doctor-patient confidentiality. This means that only the family, the doctors treating Charlie, and now the legal teams involved know the details of complex issues that define his situation.

“These issues – unknown to us and all those voicing opinions – will have been considered very carefully in reaching any decision. This is why interventions by external agencies or individuals, no matter how well-intended, are unhelpful.”

As well as being heartbreaking for his parents, Modi said the situation has also been difficult for everyone involved, including the doctors and nurses looking after him.

“Unfortunately situations such as this that involve withdrawing life-sustaining treatment are not uncommon and fall within the responsibilities of many paediatricians.”

Decisions on withdrawing life support are “not made lightly” and often never reach the courts, she added.

On Sunday, the justice secretary said it was right for the courts to decide on what was in the 11-month-old’s best interests, adding that the government had no role to play in the case.

The lord chancellor, David Lidington, expressed sympathy with the judges involved in the “heartwrenching” case when asked whether it was right that judges could overrule the wishes of Charlie’s parents.

Lidington said on Sky News’ Ridge On Sunday: “It is right that judges interpret the law, independently and dispassionately. As ministers and as a government we have no role to play in the Charlie Gard case, as would be the case in any other proceeding in court.”

He added: “I do not envy the judges who are having to take decisions on this. It must be incredibly pressured – probably emotional, under the judicial professionalism, a really emotional, heartwrenching case for them to have to decide.

“But they are independent, they know their duty is to decide the case on the basis of what they genuinely consider to be in the best interests of Charlie himself.

More than 375,000 people have signed a petition that asks the hospital to follow the wishes of Charlie’s parents, which was handed to doctors during the protest. It reads: “It is unacceptable that you have refused to follow the wishes of his parents and have instead decided to remove his life support, which will kill him.”

The children’s hospital previously won an order to say his life support should be turned off in a case that went all the way to the European court of human rights. They said his condition, caused by a rare mitochondrial disease, was irreversible and that further treatment could cause him suffering.

The degenerative genetic condition affects the cells responsible for energy production and respiration, leaving Charlie unable to move or breathe without a ventilator.

On Friday, it was announced that the hospital had applied to the high court for a new hearing to decide whether Charlie should be given the experimental drug, as urged by doctors in the US and Rome.

Under a high court ruling, the hospital is forbidden from allowing Charlie to be transferred for nucleoside therapy anywhere. It also calls for Charlie’s artificial ventilation to be withdrawn, and for him to receive palliative care only.

The fresh court battle was welcomed by the family. Yates said on Friday: “We are quite happy with this outcome and we are hopeful and confident that Charlie may get his chance now.”

‘There’s nothing to lose’: Charlie Gard’s mother pleads for US treatment

The mother of the critically ill baby Charlie Gard has called for permission to take him to the US for experimental treatment because “there’s nothing to lose”.

Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, spoke to supporters and members of the press at a rally on Sunday near Great Ormond Street hospital, where he is being treated.

Gard said the hospital was fantastic and its doctors were specialists in a lot of conditions, but not Charlie’s. “The specialists are in America and that’s where we want to go,” he said.

“He should have had this chance a long time ago now. They said that it wasn’t fair to leave him on the ventilator for three months for a treatment they didn’t think was going to work. He’s now been left for seven months with no treatment.”

Acknowledging the treatment only had a 10% chance of working, Yates said it was worth trying anyway. “He’s our son, he’s our flesh and blood. We feel that it should be our right as parents to decide to give him a chance at life. There is nothing to lose, he deserves a chance.”

Thanking the public and the press for their support, she added: “Let’s get Charlie the treatment he deserves. If he is still fighting, we are still fighting.”

Later Yates said: “I absolutely believe this medication will work. I’m not a doctor but I feel like I am an expert in his condition now.”

She accepts not everyone would agree with her and her partner’s position but maintains their son is not suffering.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there in the media, but that happens, you’ve got to take that,” she said. “But basically we wouldn’t be able to sit there and watch him in pain and suffering.

“We’re not like that, we’re not evil. We’re not doing this for us. He’s our son. We want what’s best for him.”

The case will return to the high court on Monday afternoon to hear fresh arguments following claims of “new information” from researchers at the Vatican’s children’s hospital.

The couple spoke after two congressmen said Charlie should be given residency in the US so he can receive the treatment in the country. Gard and Yates are also preparing to launch a renewed legal bid for treatment.

The Republican congressmen Brad Wenstrup and Trent Franks are expected to table a bill in the US House of Representatives on Monday to bring Charlie and his parents to the US.

In a joint statement, the US politicians said: “Our bill will support Charlie’s parents’ right to choose what is best for their son, by making Charlie a lawful permanent resident in the US in order for him to receive treatments that could save his life.

“Should this little boy to be ordered to die because a third party, overriding the wishes of his parents, believes it can conclusively determine that immediate death is what is best for him?”

Connie Yates and Chris Gard with their son Charlie Gard


Connie Yates and Chris Gard with their son Charlie Gard. Photograph: PA

Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the considerable media attention and interventions made by individuals such as the pope and Donald Trump had been “unhelpful”.

In an open letter, Modi said she had been asked why doctors have not commented on the specifics of the case.

She said: “The reason is the duty of doctor-patient confidentiality. This means that only the family, the doctors treating Charlie, and now the legal teams involved know the details of complex issues that define his situation.

“These issues – unknown to us and all those voicing opinions – will have been considered very carefully in reaching any decision. This is why interventions by external agencies or individuals, no matter how well-intended, are unhelpful.”

As well as being heartbreaking for his parents, Modi said the situation has also been difficult for everyone involved, including the doctors and nurses looking after him.

“Unfortunately situations such as this that involve withdrawing life-sustaining treatment are not uncommon and fall within the responsibilities of many paediatricians.”

Decisions on withdrawing life support are “not made lightly” and often never reach the courts, she added.

On Sunday, the justice secretary said it was right for the courts to decide on what was in the 11-month-old’s best interests, adding that the government had no role to play in the case.

The lord chancellor, David Lidington, expressed sympathy with the judges involved in the “heartwrenching” case when asked whether it was right that judges could overrule the wishes of Charlie’s parents.

Lidington said on Sky News’ Ridge On Sunday: “It is right that judges interpret the law, independently and dispassionately. As ministers and as a government we have no role to play in the Charlie Gard case, as would be the case in any other proceeding in court.”

He added: “I do not envy the judges who are having to take decisions on this. It must be incredibly pressured – probably emotional, under the judicial professionalism, a really emotional, heartwrenching case for them to have to decide.

“But they are independent, they know their duty is to decide the case on the basis of what they genuinely consider to be in the best interests of Charlie himself.

More than 375,000 people have signed a petition that asks the hospital to follow the wishes of Charlie’s parents, which was handed to doctors during the protest. It reads: “It is unacceptable that you have refused to follow the wishes of his parents and have instead decided to remove his life support, which will kill him.”

The children’s hospital previously won an order to say his life support should be turned off in a case that went all the way to the European court of human rights. They said his condition, caused by a rare mitochondrial disease, was irreversible and that further treatment could cause him suffering.

The degenerative genetic condition affects the cells responsible for energy production and respiration, leaving Charlie unable to move or breathe without a ventilator.

On Friday, it was announced that the hospital had applied to the high court for a new hearing to decide whether Charlie should be given the experimental drug, as urged by doctors in the US and Rome.

Under a high court ruling, the hospital is forbidden from allowing Charlie to be transferred for nucleoside therapy anywhere. It also calls for Charlie’s artificial ventilation to be withdrawn, and for him to receive palliative care only.

The fresh court battle was welcomed by the family. Yates said on Friday: “We are quite happy with this outcome and we are hopeful and confident that Charlie may get his chance now.”

‘There’s nothing to lose’: Charlie Gard’s mother pleads for US treatment

The mother of the critically ill baby Charlie Gard has called for permission to take him to the US for experimental treatment because “there’s nothing to lose”.

Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, spoke to supporters and members of the press at a rally on Sunday near Great Ormond Street hospital, where he is being treated.

Gard said the hospital was fantastic and its doctors were specialists in a lot of conditions, but not Charlie’s. “The specialists are in America and that’s where we want to go,” he said.

“He should have had this chance a long time ago now. They said that it wasn’t fair to leave him on the ventilator for three months for a treatment they didn’t think was going to work. He’s now been left for seven months with no treatment.”

Acknowledging the treatment only had a 10% chance of working, Yates said it was worth trying anyway. “He’s our son, he’s our flesh and blood. We feel that it should be our right as parents to decide to give him a chance at life. There is nothing to lose, he deserves a chance.”

Thanking the public and the press for their support, she added: “Let’s get Charlie the treatment he deserves. If he is still fighting, we are still fighting.”

Later Yates said: “I absolutely believe this medication will work. I’m not a doctor but I feel like I am an expert in his condition now.”

She accepts not everyone would agree with her and her partner’s position but maintains their son is not suffering.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there in the media, but that happens, you’ve got to take that,” she said. “But basically we wouldn’t be able to sit there and watch him in pain and suffering.

“We’re not like that, we’re not evil. We’re not doing this for us. He’s our son. We want what’s best for him.”

The case will return to the high court on Monday afternoon to hear fresh arguments following claims of “new information” from researchers at the Vatican’s children’s hospital.

The couple spoke after two congressmen said Charlie should be given residency in the US so he can receive the treatment in the country. Gard and Yates are also preparing to launch a renewed legal bid for treatment.

The Republican congressmen Brad Wenstrup and Trent Franks are expected to table a bill in the US House of Representatives on Monday to bring Charlie and his parents to the US.

In a joint statement, the US politicians said: “Our bill will support Charlie’s parents’ right to choose what is best for their son, by making Charlie a lawful permanent resident in the US in order for him to receive treatments that could save his life.

“Should this little boy to be ordered to die because a third party, overriding the wishes of his parents, believes it can conclusively determine that immediate death is what is best for him?”

Connie Yates and Chris Gard with their son Charlie Gard


Connie Yates and Chris Gard with their son Charlie Gard. Photograph: PA

Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the considerable media attention and interventions made by individuals such as the pope and Donald Trump had been “unhelpful”.

In an open letter, Modi said she had been asked why doctors have not commented on the specifics of the case.

She said: “The reason is the duty of doctor-patient confidentiality. This means that only the family, the doctors treating Charlie, and now the legal teams involved know the details of complex issues that define his situation.

“These issues – unknown to us and all those voicing opinions – will have been considered very carefully in reaching any decision. This is why interventions by external agencies or individuals, no matter how well-intended, are unhelpful.”

As well as being heartbreaking for his parents, Modi said the situation has also been difficult for everyone involved, including the doctors and nurses looking after him.

“Unfortunately situations such as this that involve withdrawing life-sustaining treatment are not uncommon and fall within the responsibilities of many paediatricians.”

Decisions on withdrawing life support are “not made lightly” and often never reach the courts, she added.

On Sunday, the justice secretary said it was right for the courts to decide on what was in the 11-month-old’s best interests, adding that the government had no role to play in the case.

The lord chancellor, David Lidington, expressed sympathy with the judges involved in the “heartwrenching” case when asked whether it was right that judges could overrule the wishes of Charlie’s parents.

Lidington said on Sky News’ Ridge On Sunday: “It is right that judges interpret the law, independently and dispassionately. As ministers and as a government we have no role to play in the Charlie Gard case, as would be the case in any other proceeding in court.”

He added: “I do not envy the judges who are having to take decisions on this. It must be incredibly pressured – probably emotional, under the judicial professionalism, a really emotional, heartwrenching case for them to have to decide.

“But they are independent, they know their duty is to decide the case on the basis of what they genuinely consider to be in the best interests of Charlie himself.

More than 375,000 people have signed a petition that asks the hospital to follow the wishes of Charlie’s parents, which was handed to doctors during the protest. It reads: “It is unacceptable that you have refused to follow the wishes of his parents and have instead decided to remove his life support, which will kill him.”

The children’s hospital previously won an order to say his life support should be turned off in a case that went all the way to the European court of human rights. They said his condition, caused by a rare mitochondrial disease, was irreversible and that further treatment could cause him suffering.

The degenerative genetic condition affects the cells responsible for energy production and respiration, leaving Charlie unable to move or breathe without a ventilator.

On Friday, it was announced that the hospital had applied to the high court for a new hearing to decide whether Charlie should be given the experimental drug, as urged by doctors in the US and Rome.

Under a high court ruling, the hospital is forbidden from allowing Charlie to be transferred for nucleoside therapy anywhere. It also calls for Charlie’s artificial ventilation to be withdrawn, and for him to receive palliative care only.

The fresh court battle was welcomed by the family. Yates said on Friday: “We are quite happy with this outcome and we are hopeful and confident that Charlie may get his chance now.”

‘There’s nothing to lose’: Charlie Gard’s mother pleads for US treatment

The mother of the critically ill baby Charlie Gard has called for permission to take him to the US for experimental treatment because “there’s nothing to lose”.

Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, spoke to supporters and members of the press at a rally on Sunday near Great Ormond Street hospital, where he is being treated.

Gard said the hospital was fantastic and its doctors were specialists in a lot of conditions, but not Charlie’s. “The specialists are in America and that’s where we want to go,” Gard said.

“He should have had this chance a long time ago now. They said that it wasn’t fair to leave him on the ventilator for three months for a treatment they didn’t think was going to work. He’s now been left for seven months with no treatment.”

Acknowledging the treatment only had a 10% chance of working, Yates said it was worth trying anyway. “He’s our son, he’s our flesh and blood. We feel that it should be our right as parents to decide to give him a chance at life. There is nothing to lose, he deserves a chance.”

Thanking the public and the press for their support, she added: “Let’s get Charlie the treatment he deserves. If he is still fighting, we are still fighting.”

The couple spoke after two congressmen said Charlie should be given residency in the US so he can receive the treatment in the country. Gard and Yates are also preparing to launch a renewed legal bid for treatment.

The Republican congressmen Brad Wenstrup and Trent Franks are expected to table a bill in the US House of Representatives on Monday to bring Charlie and his parents to the US.

In a joint statement, the US politicians said: “Our bill will support Charlie’s parents’ right to choose what is best for their son, by making Charlie a lawful permanent resident in the US in order for him to receive treatments that could save his life.

“Should this little boy to be ordered to die because a third party, overriding the wishes of his parents, believes it can conclusively determine that immediate death is what is best for him?”

Connie Yates and Chris Gard with their son Charlie Gard


Connie Yates and Chris Gard with their son Charlie Gard. Photograph: PA

Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the considerable media attention and interventions made by individuals such as the Pope and Donald Trump have been unhelpful.

In an open letter, Modi said she had been asked why doctors have not commented on the specifics of the case.

She said: “The reason is the duty of doctor-patient confidentiality. This means that only the family, the doctors treating Charlie, and now the legal teams involved know the details of complex issues that define his situation.

“These issues – unknown to us and all those voicing opinions – will have been considered very carefully in reaching any decision. This is why interventions by external agencies or individuals, no matter how well-intended, are unhelpful.”

As well as being heartbreaking for his parents, Modi said the situation has also been difficult for everyone involved, including the doctors and nurses looking after him.

“Unfortunately situations such as this that involve withdrawing life-sustaining treatment are not uncommon and fall within the responsibilities of many paediatricians.”

Decisions on withdrawing life support are “not made lightly” and often never reach the courts, she added.

On Sunday, the justice secretary said it was right for the courts to decide on what was in the 11-month-old’s best interests, adding that the government had no role to play in the case.

The lord chancellor, David Lidington, expressed sympathy with the judges involved in the “heartwrenching” case when asked whether it was right that judges could overrule the wishes of Charlie’s parents.

Lidington said on Sky News’ Ridge On Sunday: “It is right that judges interpret the law, independently and dispassionately. As ministers and as a government we have no role to play in the Charlie Gard case, as would be the case in any other proceeding in court.”

He added: “I do not envy the judges who are having to take decisions on this. It must be incredibly pressured – probably emotional, under the judicial professionalism, a really emotional, heartwrenching case for them to have to decide.

“But they are independent, they know their duty is to decide the case on the basis of what they genuinely consider to be in the best interests of Charlie himself.

More than 375,000 people have signed a petition that asks the hospital to follow the wishes of Charlie’s parents, which was handed to doctors during the protest, before a fresh court battle over his treatment. It reads: “It is unacceptable that you have refused to follow the wishes of his parents and have instead decided to remove his life support, which will kill him.”

The children’s hospital previously won an order to say his life support should be turned off in a case that went all the way to the European court of human rights. They said his condition, caused by a rare mitochondrial disease, was irreversible and that further treatment could cause him suffering.

The degenerative genetic condition affects the cells responsible for energy production and respiration, leaving Charlie unable to move or breathe without a ventilator.

On Friday, it was announced that the hospital had applied to the high court for a new hearing to decide whether Charlie should be given the experimental drug, as urged by doctors in the US and Rome.

Under a high court ruling, the hospital is forbidden from allowing Charlie to be transferred for nucleoside therapy anywhere. It also calls for Charlie’s artificial ventilation to be withdrawn, and for him to receive palliative care only.

The fresh court battle was welcomed by the family. Yates said on Friday: “We are quite happy with this outcome and we are hopeful and confident that Charlie may get his chance now.”

‘There’s nothing to lose’: Charlie Gard’s mother pleads for US treatment

The mother of the critically ill baby Charlie Gard has called for permission to take him to the US for experimental treatment because “there’s nothing to lose”.

Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, spoke to supporters and members of the press at a rally on Sunday near Great Ormond Street hospital, where he is being treated.

Gard said the hospital was fantastic and its doctors were specialists in a lot of conditions, but not Charlie’s. “The specialists are in America and that’s where we want to go,” Gard said.

“He should have had this chance a long time ago now. They said that it wasn’t fair to leave him on the ventilator for three months for a treatment they didn’t think was going to work. He’s now been left for seven months with no treatment.”

Acknowledging the treatment only had a 10% chance of working, Yates said it was worth trying anyway. “He’s our son, he’s our flesh and blood. We feel that it should be our right as parents to decide to give him a chance at life. There is nothing to lose, he deserves a chance.”

Thanking the public and the press for their support, she added: “Let’s get Charlie the treatment he deserves. If he is still fighting, we are still fighting.”

The couple spoke after two congressmen said Charlie should be given residency in the US so he can receive the treatment in the country. Gard and Yates are also preparing to launch a renewed legal bid for treatment.

The Republican congressmen Brad Wenstrup and Trent Franks are expected to table a bill in the US House of Representatives on Monday to bring Charlie and his parents to the US.

In a joint statement, the US politicians said: “Our bill will support Charlie’s parents’ right to choose what is best for their son, by making Charlie a lawful permanent resident in the US in order for him to receive treatments that could save his life.

“Should this little boy to be ordered to die because a third party, overriding the wishes of his parents, believes it can conclusively determine that immediate death is what is best for him?”

Chris Gard and Connie Yates with their son Charlie Gard.


Chris Gard and Connie Yates with their son Charlie Gard. Photograph: PA

On Sunday, the justice secretary said it was right that the courts decide on what was in the 11-month-old’s best interests, adding that the government had no role to play in the case.

The lord chancellor, David Lidington, expressed sympathy with the judges involved in the “heartwrenching” case when asked whether it was right that judges could overrule the wishes of Charlie’s parents.

Lidington told on Sky News’ Ridge On Sunday: “It is right that judges interpret the law, independently and dispassionately. As ministers and as a government we have no role to play in the Charlie Gard case, as would be the case in any other proceeding in court.”

He added: “I do not envy the judges who are having to take decisions on this. It must be incredibly pressured – probably emotional, under the judicial professionalism, a really emotional, heartwrenching case for them to have to decide.

“But they are independent, they know their duty is to decide the case on the basis of what they genuinely consider to be in the best interests of Charlie himself.

The petition, which asks the hospital to follow the wishes of Charlie’s parents, was handed to doctors during the protest before a fresh court battle over his treatment. It reads: “It is unacceptable that you have refused to follow the wishes of his parents and have instead decided to remove his life support, which will kill him.”

The children’s hospital previously won an order to say his life support should be turned off in a case that went all the way to the European court of human rights. They said his condition, caused by a rare mitochondrial disease, was irreversible and that further treatment could cause him suffering.

The degenerative genetic condition affects the cells responsible for energy production and respiration, leaving Charlie unable to move or breathe without a ventilator.

On Friday, it was announced that the hospital had applied to the high court for a new hearing to decide whether Charlie should be given the experimental drug, as urged by doctors in the US and Rome.

Under a high court ruling, the hospital is forbidden from allowing Charlie to be transferred for nucleoside therapy anywhere. It also calls for Charlie’s artificial ventilation to be withdrawn, and for him to receive palliative care only.

The fresh court battle was welcomed by the family. Yates said on Friday: “We are quite happy with this outcome and we are hopeful and confident that Charlie may get his chance now.”

New blood test could see personalised prostate cancer treatment

A new three-in-one blood test could pave the way to precision-personalised treatment for advanced prostate cancer, say scientists.

The test has the potential to transform the way the disease is tackled by targeting specific gene mutations, it is claimed.

By looking for cancer DNA in blood samples, researchers were able to identify men with defective BRCA genes who were likely to benefit from a class of drugs called Parp inhibitors.

They also used the test to monitor DNA in the blood after treatment started, so patients who were not responding could quickly be switched to an alternative therapy.

Finally, the same test was used to pick up signs of evolving cancer showing the first signs of drug resistance.

Prof Johann de Bono, who led the team at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said: “We were able to develop a powerful, three-in-one test that could in future be used to help doctors select treatment, check whether it is working and monitor the cancer in the longer term.

“We think it could be used to make clinical decisions about whether a Parp inhibitor is working within as little as four to eight weeks of starting therapy.

“Not only could the test have a major impact on treatment of prostate cancer, but it could also be adapted to open up the possibility of precision medicine to patients with other types of cancer as well.”

In future, the test could allow the Parp inhibitor olaparib to become a standard treatment for advanced prostate cancer, by targeting those most likely to benefit, picking up early signs that the drug might not be working, and monitoring for emerging resistance.

Parp inhibitors such as olaparib block an enzyme used by cancer cells with defective BRCA 1 and 2 genes to repair their DNA.

When Parp is disabled, the cells die. The drugs do not generally work on cancer cells with functioning BRCA genes, because these are primary DNA repair tools that make Parp unnecessary. While some patients respond to the drugs for years, others either fail to respond at an early stage or develop resistant cancer.

The new test, described in the journal Cancer Discovery, was developed with the help of 49 patients enrolled in TOPARP-A, a Phase II clinical trial investigating the effectiveness of olaparib.

Men responding to the drug were found to experience an average drop in circulating cancer DNA of 49.6% after eight weeks of treatment. In contrast, cancer DNA levels rose by 2.1% in patients who did not respond.

Patients whose cancer DNA blood levels were lowered by olaparib survived an average of 17 months compared with 10.1 months for those whose levels remained high.

The scientists also conducted a detailed investigation of the genetic changes in cancer DNA among men who stopped responding to olaparib. They found that the cells acquired genetic changes that cancelled out the DNA repair defects making them susceptible to the drug.

Prof Paul Workman, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, said: “Blood tests for cancer promise to be truly revolutionary. They are cheap and simple to use, but most importantly, because they aren’t invasive, they can be employed or applied to routinely monitor patients to spot early if treatment is failing – offering patients the best chance of surviving their disease.

“This test is particularly exciting because it is multi-purpose, designed for use both before and after treatment, and using both the absolute amounts of cancer DNA in the bloodstream and also a readout of the specific mutations within that genetic material.

“We believe it can usher in a new era of precision medicine for prostate cancer.”

Each year, around 47,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 11,000 die from the disease.

Dr Matthew Hobbs, deputy director of research at the charity Prostate Cancer UK, which funded the research, said: “It’s clear that we need to move away from the current one-size-fits-all approach to much more targeted treatment methods.

“The results from this study and others like it are crucial as they give an important understanding of the factors that drive certain prostate cancers, or make them vulnerable to specific treatments.”

Prostate cancer blood test could transform treatment, say scientists

Scientists have developed a simple three-in-one blood test they believe could transform treatment of advanced prostate cancer, helping to extend or save lives.

The test, developed by researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London and the Royal Marsden NHS foundation trust, picks out men suitable for treatment with olaparib, part of a revolutionary class of drugs called “PARP-inhibitors”, which stops damaged cells from repairing themselves.

The liquid biopsy, less invasive than a tissue biopsy, also detects early signs of resistance to olaparib and monitors the cancer’s evolution over time, according to the paper, published in Cancer Discovery on Monday.

Prof Johann de Bono, Regius professor of cancer research at the ICR, and consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS foundation trust, said: “Our study identifies, for the first time, genetic changes that allow prostate cancer cells to become resistant to the precision medicine olaparib.

“From these findings, we were able to develop a powerful, three-in-one test that could in future be used to help doctors select treatment, check whether it is working and monitor the cancer in the longer term. We think it could be used to make clinical decisions about whether a PARP-inhibitor is working within as little as four to eight weeks of starting therapy.

“Not only could the test have a major impact on treatment of prostate cancer, but it could also be adapted to open up the possibility of precision medicine to patients with other types of cancer as well.”

By testing cancer DNA in the bloodstream, the researchers found they could pick out which men with advanced prostate cancer were likely to benefit from treatment with the drug.

They also used the test to analyse DNA in the blood after treatment had started, so people who were not responding could be identified and switched to alternative therapy in as little as four to eight weeks.

Thirdly, they used the test to monitor a patient’s blood throughout treatment to quickly pick up signs that the cancer was evolving genetically and might be becoming resistant to the drugs.

The researchers collected blood samples from 49 men at the Royal Marsden with advanced prostate cancer enrolled in the phase II clinical trial of olaparib.

The drug is effective at killing cancer cells that have errors in genes which would otherwise keep them healthy. Some patients respond to olaparib for years but in others the treatment can fail early or the cancer can evolve resistance.

The ICR chief executive, Prof Paul Workman, said the test could “usher in a new era of precision medicine for prostate cancer”.

He said: “Blood tests for cancer promise to be truly revolutionary. They are cheap and simple to use, but most importantly, because they aren’t invasive, they can be employed or applied to routinely monitor patients to spot early if treatment is failing – offering patients the best chance of surviving their disease.”

The research was funded by the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Prostate Cancer UK, Movember, Cancer Research UK and the National Institute for Health Research.