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This Week in BMC Cancer: Apr 2, 2012

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In a paper published online in advance in BMC Cancer this week, investigators at the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg in Germany present their analysis of the mRNA expression levels of different osteopontin splice variants in tumor samples from 124 soft tissue sarcoma patients. When the researchers applied a multivariate Cox's proportional hazard regression model, they found that high mRNA expression levels of osteopontin splice variants "are significantly associated with poor prognosis in STS [soft tissue sarcoma] patients." Further, the researchers found that "high mRNA expression levels of OPN [osteopontin]-b and OPN-c correlated with a high risk of tumor-related death in STS patients that received radiotherapy," they write.

Elsewhere in the journal, researchers at China's Sun Yat-sen University show that "expression of the phosphorylated MEK5 protein is associated with TNM [tumor, node, metastasis] staging of colorectal cancer," or CRC. Specifically, the Sun Yat-sen team shows in a Western blotting analysis involving 19 cases of primary CRC lesions paired with normal mucosa that "overexpression of pMEK5 in CRC tissues was significantly correlated to the depth of invasion, lymph node metastasis, distant metastasis, and high preoperative CEA [carcinoembryonic] antigen level." Overall, the authors say that "pMEK5 expression is correlated with the staging of CRC, and its expression might be helpful to the TNM staging system of CRC."

The Scan

Should've Been Spotted Sooner

Scientists tell the Guardian that SARS-CoV-2 testing issues at a UK lab should have been noticed earlier.

For Martian Fuel

Researchers have outlined a plan to produce rocket fuel on Mars that uses a combination of sunlight, carbon dioxide, frozen water, cyanobacteria, and engineered E. coli, according to Gizmodo.

To Boost Rapid Testing

The Washington Post writes that new US programs aim to boost the availability of rapid at-home SARS-CoV-2 tests.

PNAS Papers on Strawberry Evolution, Cell Cycle Regulators, False-Positive Triplex Gene Editing

In PNAS this week: strawberry pan-genome, cell cycle-related roles for MDM2 and MDMX, and more.