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This Week in BMC Cancer: Dec 5, 2011

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In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Germany report that the TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion, which occurs in about half of all prostate cancer cases, is associated with certain prostate cancer biomarkers and TGF-beta signaling. The team studied large-scale gene expression profiles from 47 prostate tumors and 48 normal prostate tissue samples, and found that well-known prostate cancer biomarkers like CRISP3 were associated with gene fusion status. "WNT, TGF-beta/BMP signaling pathways were significantly associated with genes upregulated in TMPRSS2-ERG fusion-positive tumors," the authors write. "Our results suggest that the fusion status should be considered in retrospective and future studies to assess biomarkers for prostate cancer detection, progression and targeted therapy."

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in China report that the STAT3 activation in the monocytes of a liver cancer patient can accelerate that cancer's progression. In studying STAT3 expression in liver cancer tissue samples and in the monocytes of liver cancer patients, the team found that phosphorylated STAT3 expression was significantly correlated with advanced disease stage and poor prognosis. In a mouse model of liver cancer, inhibition of STAT3 with a compound called NSC 74859 significantly suppressed tumor growth, induced tumor cell apoptosis, and suppressed cancer associated inflammation in the liver. "Our data suggest constitutively activated STAT3 monocytes promote liver tumorigenesis in clinical patients and animal experiments," the authors write. "Thus, STAT3 in tumor infiltrating inflammatory cells may an attractive target for liver cancer therapy."

Finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers at the BC Cancer Agency in Canada write that targeting hypoxic tumor cells can help combat metastasis. Recent evidence suggests that hypoxic cells in primary tumors can also affect the survival and proliferation of metastatic tumor cells in other organs, the authors write. There are a number of treatments that could directly target hypoxic cells and functionally inhibit hypoxia-induced proteins. "Targeting hypoxic tumor cells to reduce metastatic disease represents an important advance in the way scientists and clinicians view the influence of tumor hypoxia on therapeutic outcome," they add.

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.