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This Week in BMC Cancer: Sep 12, 2011

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In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in the UK present a study on over-expression of carbonic anhydrase and HIF-1alpha in patients with Wilms tumors. Over-expression of the CA9 enzyme is associated with poor survival in several adult-type cancers, but its expression is uncertain in Wilms tumors, the most common pediatric kidney tumor type, the authors write. For this study, the team measured CA9 and HIF-1alpha protein expression in Wilms tumor samples and matched-paired non-cancerous kidneys, and found that both proteins are over-expressed in a significant portion of Wilms tumor kidneys compared to controls. However, there was no significant association between the expression of either CA9 or HIF-1alpha and clinicopathological variables in the tumors resected following chemotherapy.

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Germany write that radiation-induced migration of human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells can be inhibited by blocking EGF receptor pathways. It has been shown that radiation sometimes causes glioma cells to migrate and further spread a tumor. For this study, the team treated a head and neck cancer cell line with increasing doses of radiation to measure the migration of tumor cells, and then applied both an EGFR antagonist and inhibitor. In the absence of EGFR stimulation or inhibition, increasing doses of radiation induced migration of the cancer cells. When EGFR was inhibited, the team found that cell migration was reduced significantly, and when EGFR was stimulated, migration was significantly increased. "Our results demonstrate that the EGFR is involved in radiation-induced migration of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells," the authors write. "Therefore EGFR or the downstream pathways might be a target for the treatment of HNSCC to improve the efficacy of radiotherapy."

Finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Australia present results from a pilot study of the effects of individualized walking intervention for ovarian cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Exercise intervention during adjuvant cancer therapy has been shown to increase functional capacity, and relieve fatigue and distress, the team writes, though it was not known if this also applies to ovarian cancer. For this study, the team recruited newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patients and assessed them as they undertook individualized walking regimens throughout their chemotherapy. "Meaningful improvements were found in physical functioning, physical symptoms, physical well-being and ovarian cancer-specific quality of life," the team found. "Most women (76 percent) completed [greater than or equal to] 85 percent of their planned chemotherapy dose."

The Scan

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

US Survey Data Suggests Ancestry Testing Leads Way in Awareness, Use of Genetic Testing Awareness

Although roughly three-quarters of surveyed individuals in a Genetics in Medicine study reported awareness of genetic testing, use of such tests was lower and varied with income, ancestry, and disease history.

Coral Genome Leads to Alternative Amino Acid Pathway Found in Other Non-Model Animals

An alternative cysteine biosynthesis pathway unearthed in the Acropora loripes genome subsequently turned up in sequences from non-mammalian, -nematode, or -arthropod animals, researchers report in Science Advances.

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.