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This Week in BMC Cancer: Jan 4, 2012

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In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Germany report their study of the associations between human chorionic gonadotropin and grade, stage, and patient survival in ovarian cancer. The team gathered data from patients diagnosed and treated for ovarian tumors, and measured their serum hCG concentration. More than 26 percent of the patients with benign tumors and 67 percent of patients with malignant tumors were found to have hCG-positive sera, with significantly higher concentrations found in patients with malignant tumors. "Serum human gonadotropin levels differ in patients with benign and malignant ovarian tumors," the authors write. "HCG is often expressed in ovarian cancer tissue with a certain variable relation to grade and stage. HCG expression correlates with LH-R expression in ovarian cancer tissue, which has previously been shown to be of prognostic value. Both the hormone and its receptor, may therefore serve as targets for new cancer therapies."

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Japan write that the down-regulation of the SAV1 gene plays a role in the development of high-grade clear cell renal cell carcinoma. The team analyzed the gene expression of SAV1 in eight renal cell carcinoma cell lines, and found it to be frequently down-regulated in high-grade clear cell renal cell carcinoma. In addition, when the team reintroduced SAV1 to one of these cell lines, colony-forming activity of the cancer cells was significantly reduced. As SAV1 is located in the Hippo pathway, the authors write, this study offers evidence that Hippo signaling could prove to be an effective therapeutic target for this disease.

Finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Norway and China write that the knock down of certain neuronal elements in glioblastoma cells sensitizes them to treatment with radiotherapy and temozolomide. The team investigated the expressions of class III beta-tubulin, neurofilament protein, microtubule-associated protein 2, and neuron-specific enolase in five GBM cell lines and two GBM biopsies. They found that all of these markers except NFP were expressed in the cell lines and biopsies, and further found that NSE was up-regulated in cellular stress conditions. "NSE knockdown reduced the migration of glioma cells, sensitized them to hypoxia, radio- and chemotherapy," the authors write. "Furthermore, we found that GBM patients in the group with the highest NSE expression lived significantly shorter than patients in the low-expression group."

The Scan

Two J&J Doses

Johnson & Johnson says two doses of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine provides increased protection against symptomatic COVID-19, CNN reports.

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Response in Kids

The Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in a lower-dose format appears to generate an immune response among children, according to the Washington Post.

Chicken Changes to Prevent Disease

The Guardian writes that researchers are looking at gene editing chickens to help prevent future pandemics.

PNAS Papers on Siberian Dog Ancestry, Insect Reproduction, Hippocampal Neurogenesis

In PNAS this week: ancestry and admixture among Siberian dogs, hormone role in fruit fly reproduction, and more.