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This Week in BMC Cancer: Apr 30, 2012

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In BMC Cancer this week, researchers in Mexico report on the effect of a copper compound on glioma cells. The team introducted Casiopeina III-ia to rat malignant glioma C6 cells, finding that it inhibited cell proliferation, and induced autophagy and apoptosis. In conjunction, the team detected the generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species and an increased activity of c-jun NH2-terminal kinase. "Our data suggest that Cas III-ia induces cell death by autophagy and apoptosis, in part due to the activation of ROS-dependent JNK signaling," the authors write. "These findings support further studies of Cas III-ia as candidate for treatment of human malignant glioma."

Also in BMC Cancer this week, a team of European researchers investigates the cancer-related and non-cancer-related effects of chronic low-dose ionizing radiation exposure on patients' brains and eyes. "Ionizing radiation is an established environmental cause of brain cancer," the authors write. "Although direct evidence is lacking in contemporary fluoroscopy due to obvious sample-size limitation, limited follow-up time and lack of focused research, anecdotal reports of clusters have appeared in the literature, raising the suspicion that brain cancer may be a professional disease of interventional cardiologists."

And finally in BMC Cancer this week, researchers in China present a new strategy for breast cancer therapy. Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand has been proposed as a possible cancer therapeutic agent because of its ability to selectively kill cancer cells while sparing normal cells. The researchers have previously shown that administration of a recombinant adeno-associated virus vector expressing soluble TRAIL efficiently suppresses human tumor growth in nude mice. For this study, the team introduced Tet-On gene expression system into the rAAV vector to control the soluble TRAIL expression. They found that the Tet-On system controlled the expression of soluble TRAIL in normal and cancer cells, and that the introduction of this treatment to human cancer cell lines in combination with doxycycline resulted in considerable apoptosis. "These data suggest that rAAV-mediated soluble TRAIL expression under the control of the Tet-On system is a promising strategy for breast cancer therapy," the authors write.

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.