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Advances in Cancer Research, Pippin Prep, Marco Marra, and NIH's Chemical Genomics Center

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Five years ago, we debuted our first annual special issue devoted to cancer research, promising a comprehensive look at biomedical advances in diagnostics, prognostics, and therapeutics. As a sidebar to our April 2005 cover story, we asked the vanguards of cancer biology a simple question: "What is the most promising approach in cancer research right now?" Respondents such as the director of Cancer Biology at the National Cancer Institute, the president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and others replied to our query with assorted musings on genomic and proteomic profiling, integrative systems biology approaches, and improving molecular diagnostics.

In the years since, the 'omics have played an increased role in cancer research. In April 2009, our cover story again focused on emerging techniques in cancer. Substantial attention was paid to microRNA modulations and protein biomarkers. At the time, GT spoke with Rong Fan, then a third-year postdoc in James Heath's Caltech lab, about his work on a diagnostic barcode chip published in Nature Biotechnology. Fan has since become an assistant professor at Yale University, where his research focuses on single-cell technologies to survey the heterogeneous nature of the tumor microenvironment, among other projects.

Also in 2009, we reported the announcement of Beverly, Mass.-based Sage Science's Pippin Prep DNA fractionation tool for next-generation sequencing platforms. As of the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology meeting held in February, the firm's CEO Gary Magnant said that the firm expects to ship their beta instruments to initial adopters early this year. He adds that Sage is hoping for a late 2010 worldwide release.

We highlighted the research of Marco Marra at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in both April 2005 and 2009. At those times, he was working on high-throughput fingerprinting to study lymphomas, and sequencing and expression data for the application of therapeutics to rare and undefined cancer types, respectively. In September 2009, Marra was inducted as a fellow in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

In last year's April issue, we spoke with Chris Austin at NIH's Chemical Genomics Center. The NCGC's most recent published work, which appeared in Nature in January, describes chronic active B-cell receptor signaling in B-cell lymphoma.

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