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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

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.