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This Week in BMC Cancer: Dec 12, 2011

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In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in China say that the expression of delta-catenin in humans is associated with human astrocytoma and may contribute to its development. The team investigated delta-catenin expression in astrocytoma samples and detected its protein expressed in the cytoplasm of astrocytoma cells. Delta-catenin expression was significantly higher in higher grade cancers, and the researchers found that it promoted proliferation and invasion of cancer cells. In addition, when the team knocked down delta-catenin in a glioblastoma cell line, cancer cell proliferation and invasion decreased. "The results suggest that delta-catenin expression is associated with the malignant progression of astrocytoma and promotes astrocytoma cell invasion," the authors write. "Delta-catenin expression levels may serve as a useful marker of the biological behavior of astrocytoma cells."

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine say the plasma secretory phospholipase A2-IIa could serve as a potential biomarker for lung cancer in patients with solitary pulmonary nodules. The team took plasma samples from healthy donors, patients with benign nodules, and patients with lung cancer and analyzed the expression of the sPLA2-IIa protein. They found that levels of plasma sPLA2-IIa were significantly elevated in lung cancer patients. "Our finding strongly suggests that plasma sPLA2-IIa is a potential lung biomarker to distinguish benign nodules from lung cancer and to aid lung cancer diagnosis in patients with SPNs," the team adds.

Finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Singapore and China present a study on the regulation of the catalytic compound of telomerase, hTERT, by BCR-ABL in K562 — BCR-ABL positive human leukemia — cells. By analyzing hTERT expression and the activity of leukemia drug Gleevec in the K562 cells, the team found that the drug inhibited the tyrosine kinase activity of BCR-ABL, leading to a downregulation in the phosphorylation of hTERT. This suggests a positive correlation between BCR-ABL and hTERT, the team says. "Our data reveal that BCR-ABL can regulate telomerase activity at multiple levels, including transcription, post-translational level, and proper localization," the authors add. "Thus, suppression of cell growth and induction of apoptosis by Gleevec treatment may be partially due to telomerase activity inhibition."

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