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This Week in BMC Cancer: Mar 12, 2012

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In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Switzerland report on the anti-tumor activities of ATP-competitive mTOR inhibitors in colon cancer cells. The team treated LS174T, SW480, and DLD-1 colon cancer cell lines with an ATP-competitive inhibitor of mTOR, a dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor, or rapamycin. They found that the two inhibitors reduced the growth, proliferation, and survival of cancer cells more efficiently than rapamycin, and reduced the growth of xenografts generated from LS174T and SW480 cells. "Taken together, these results show that ATP-competitive inhibitors of mTOR are effective in blocking colon cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo and thus represent a therapeutic option in colon cancer either alone or in combination with MEK inhibitors," the authors write.

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Spain and Germany analyze SLX4 and FANCP in breast cancer families without mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2. Their mutational analysis of 94 such families showed extensive genetic variation in SLX4 — 21 novel single nucleotide variants were present. However, the team adds, none of the variants could be directly linked to altered protein function. "Further genetic analysis, combined with functional assays of the identified rare variants, may be warranted to conclusively assess the potential link with the disease," the authors add.

Finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Denmark report on the value of microRNA-126 in predicting treatment outcome in metastatic colorectal cancer patients treated with capecitabine and oxaliplatin. The team analyzed miRNA-126 expression in tissue samples from 89 colorectal cancer patients. They found that median miRNA-126 expression was significantly higher in patients responding to first-line capecitabine and oxaliplatin, compared to non-responders. "The predictive value of miRNA-126 remains to be further elucidated in prospective studies," the team adds.

The Scan

Wolf Howl Responses Offer Look at Vocal Behavior-Related Selection in Dogs

In dozens of domestic dogs listening to wolf vocalizations, researchers in Communication Biology see responses varying with age, sex, reproductive status, and a breed's evolutionary distance from wolves.

Facial Imaging-Based Genetic Diagnoses Appears to Get Boost With Three-Dimensional Approach

With data for more than 1,900 individuals affected by a range of genetic conditions, researchers compared facial phenotype-based diagnoses informed by 2D or 3D images in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Survey Suggests Multigene Cancer Panel VUS Reporting May Vary Across Genetic Counselors

Investigators surveyed dozens of genetic counselors working in clinical or laboratory settings, uncovering attitudes around VUS reporting after multigene cancer panel testing in the Journal of Genetic Counseling.

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.