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This Week in BMC Cancer: Apr 5, 2011

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In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Brazil conducted a systemic review with meta-analysis of adjuvant therapy for locally advanced renal cell cancer. Many trials have been undertaken to find ways to reduce the risk of recurrence in patients who undergo surgery for renal cell cancer, the authors write, but no clear benefit has been identified. The researchers looked through randomized controlled trials that compared patients who received adjuvant therapy following surgery to patients who had no active treatment after surgery, and the studies showed that adjuvant therapy provided no benefit in terms of overall survival or disease-free survival when compared to the non-treatment group. "Until these trials yield results, no adjuvant therapy can be recommended for patients who undergo surgical resection for renal cell cancer," the authors write.

Also in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in the UK and Germany say the antiapoptotic gene survivin is highly-expressed in human chondrosarcoma and promotes drug resistance in the cancer's cells in vitro. Chondrosarcoma is almost entirely resistant to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, the authors write. Resected chondrosarcoma specimens from 12 patients show survivin is expressed, though it is undetectable in adult human cartilage. "RNA interference targeting survivin resulted in a G2/M-arrest of the cell cycle and led to increased rates of apoptosis in chondrosarcoma cells in vitro," the researchers say. "Overexpression of survivin resulted in pronounced resistance to doxorubicin treatment." Survivin-inhibiting treatments may suppress this mechanism and lead to treatment of chondrosarcoma, they add.

Researchers in Australia, the UK, and the US say that a KLK15 SNP located close to a novel exon shows evidence of association with poor survival in ovarian cancer patients. KLK15 overexpression is known to be a predictor of survival in ovarian cancer, the researchers write. The team performed an in silico analysis to identify KLK15 regulatory elements, and found a SNP that was associated with "significantly worse survival" of patients in different data sets. "This SNP lies 15 base pairs downstream of a novel exon and is predicted to be involved in mRNA splicing," the researchers write. "The mutant allele is also predicted to abrogate an HSF-2 binding site."

Finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Japan say that there was "significant" improvement in survival rates for patients with recurrent breast cancer between 2001 and 2008 — after trastuzumab and third-generation aromatase inhibitors were approved for use in Japan — compared to 1992 through 2000, when those treatments were unavailable. The researchers evaluated about 400 patients who were diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer between 1992 and 2008, and found that "both the time period and treatment of AIs and/or trastuzumab for recurrent disease were significant prognostic factors in multivariate analysis." The team concludes that the survival improvement was most apparent in HR-positive and/or HER2-positive tumors.

The Scan

For Better Odds

Bloomberg reports that a child has been born following polygenic risk score screening as an embryo.

Booster Decision Expected

The New York Times reports the US Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine this week for individuals over 65 or at high risk.

Snipping HIV Out

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Temple University researchers are to test a gene-editing approach for treating HIV.

PLOS Papers on Cancer Risk Scores, Typhoid Fever in Colombia, Streptococcus Protection

In PLOS this week: application of cancer polygenic risk scores across ancestries, genetic diversity of typhoid fever-causing Salmonella, and more.