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This Week in BMC Cancer : Apr 9, 2012

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Reporting on behalf of the SYNCHRONOUS trial group, the University of Heidelberg's Jurgen Weitz and his colleagues present the details of their clinical investigation, in which they aim to assess whether "patients with colon cancer and synchronous unresectable metastases who present without severe symptoms should undergo resection of the primary tumor prior to systemic chemotherapy." In BMC Cancer, the researchers say that eligible patients enrolled in their multicenter, randomized, controlled, superiority trial with a two-group parallel design will undergo resection of the primary tumor as well as systemic chemotherapy, so that they can investigate the safety of both treatment strategies.

In another paper published online in advance in BMC Cancer, investigators at Portugal's University of Coimbra show that oseteosarcoma cells derived from the human MNNG/HOS line "contain a stem-like cell population relatively resistant to conventional chemotherapeutic agents and irradiation." The team isolated such cells with stem-like properties from the MNNG/HOS line using the sphere formation assay, characterizing them according to their self-renewal properties, expression of pluripotency markers, metabolic activity, and tumorigenicity, among other things. Overall, the team says the resistance phenotype it observed in the MNNG/HOS-derived cells with stem-like properties "appears to be related with some stem features, namely the high expression of the drug efflux transporters P-glycoprotein and BCRP and their quiescent nature, which may provide a biological basis for resistance to therapy and recurrence commonly observed in osteosarcoma."

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.