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This Week in BMC Cancer: Jan 23, 2012

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In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in India report that over-expression of the protein fascin in oral squamous cell carcinoma promotes progression of the disease. The team over-expressed fascin in an oral squamous cell carcinoma cell line, and examined fascin expression in 131 tumor samples. They found that over-expression of the protein caused a significant increase in cell migration and cell invasion. In addition, the researchers found that fascin expression in tumor samples significantly correlated with increased tumor stage, increased lymph node metastasis, less differentiation, increased recurrence, and shorter survival time in patients. "In conclusion, our results indicate that fascin promotes tumor progression and activates AKT and MAPK pathways in OSCC-derived cells," the authors write. "Further, our correlative studies of fascin expression in OSCC with clinico-pathological parameters of the patients indicate that fascin may prove to be useful in prognostication and treatment of OSCC."

Also in BMC Cancer this week, a team led by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center examines the effects of obesity and body composition on prostate cancer risk. The team examined 402 men with a prostate cancer Gleason score of six, 272 men with a Gleason score of seven, and 135 with a Gleason score ranging between eight and 10, and 1,057 controls with no prostate cancer. They found that body size and composition were not significantly associated with low-grade prostate cancer, but that body-mass index, waist circumference, body fat mass, and fat-free mass were each associated with an increased risk for higher-stage prostate cancer. "Our results suggest that associations between BMI and [waist circumference] with high-grade prostate cancer are mediated through the measurement of total body [fat-free mass]," the authors write. "It is unlikely that [fat-free mass] causes prostate cancer, but instead provides a marker of testosterone and IGF1 activities involved with retaining lean mass as men age."

Finally in BMC Cancer this week, a team of researchers in the UK examines the association between high cholesterol and incidence of grade-specific prostate cancer. The researchers studied data from a cohort of 12,926 men enrolled in studies between 1970 and 1976, and followed up on through 2007. They found that 650 men developed prostate cancer in the 37 years of follow up, and that baseline plasma cholesterol was positively associated with risk of high-grade prostate cancer. "This association remained significant after adjustment for body mass index, smoking and socioeconomic status," the authors write. "Men with higher cholesterol are at greater risk of developing high-grade prostate cancer but not overall risk of prostate cancer. Interventions to minimize metabolic risk factors may have a role in reducing incidence of aggressive prostate cancer."

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.