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This Week in BMC Cancer: Jan 30, 2012


In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Mexico report that cancer-initiating cells derived from established cervical cancer cell lines contain stem cell markers and show increased resistance to radiotherapy. After culturing the cells, the researchers examined them for expression of CD34, CD49f, and CD133 antigens. They found that, when injected into mice, the cancer-initiating cells induced the development of tumors in the majority of test animals. "More importantly, gene expression analysis indicated that genes required for radioresistance were also up-regulated, including components of the double-strand break DNA repair machinery and the metabolism of reactive oxygen species," the authors write. "Dose-dependent radiation assay indicated indeed that CICs-enriched populations exhibit an increased resistance to ionizing radiation."

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Spain identify a biomarker panel to diagnose colorectal cancer. The team conducted a genomic study of 31 colorectal tumor samples in different stages of disease and 33 non-tumoral samples, and assembled a dataset of about 8,100 probes. After classifying the data to find the most relevant genes, the team singled out seven genes — two of which are directly involved in cancer progression, and in colorectal cancer in particular. "We have developed a tentative model for the diagnosis of colorectal cancer based on a biomarker panel," the authors write. "Our results indicate that the gene profile described herein can discriminate between non-cancerous and cancerous samples with 94.45 [percent] accuracy using different supervised classifiers."

Finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in the Netherlands report that a patient's age can determine the prognostic utility of a breast cancer stem cell marker, ALDH1. The team analyzed ALDH1 expression data from 574 breast cancer patients, and found a complete lack of it in 40 percent of the tumors. "With increasing age more tumors showed complete absence of ALDH1 expression," the authors write. "In patients aged [more than] 65 years, ALDH1 status was not associated with any clinical outcome. Conversely, in patients aged [less than] 65 years, ALDH1 positivity was an independent risk factor of worse outcome for relapse free period and relative survival."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.