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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: Feb 23, 2011

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In BJC this week, researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine write about the development of DNA microarray-based gene expression profiling and how it could lead to personalized treatment of gliomas. Microarray technology was originally thought of as a more comprehensive replacement for traditional histopathological cancer classification systems, the authors write. Although gene expression profiling won't completely replace morphological classification of brain tumors, it has confirmed that "significant molecular heterogeneity exists within the various morphologically defined gliomas, particularly glioblastoma," they add. During the past 10 years, the development of gene expression profiling — particularly with a focus on the development of clinical diagnostic tests to identify molecular subtypes — could lead to a more accurate classification system for gliomas, which could, in turn, lead to "individualised clinical care of glioma patients," the team suggests.

Also in BJC this week, an international team of researchers discuss the results of a Phase I study of NC-6004 — cisplatin-incorporated polymeric micelles — in patients with solid tumors. The researchers hypothesized that NC-6004 would show lower toxicity and greater anti-tumor activity than cisplatin. The team recruited 17 patients with a range of advanced solid tumor types and administered NC-6004 intravenously for three weeks. They found that the delayed and sustained release of cisplatin after IV administration contributes to a very low toxicity of NC-6004.

A team of researchers in Finland says hypertension may be a biomarker in metastatic colorectal cancer patients. Hypertension is a common side effect of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor antibody treatment, the authors write. It could be a marker of VEGF signaling pathway inhibition and a survival biomarker in metastatic colorectal cancer patients treated with chemotherapy and bevacizumab. The researchers treated 101 patients with standard chemotherapy and bevacizumab, and found that 57 patients developed grade 1 hypertension.

And finally in BJC this week, a team of researchers in the Netherlands present their analysis on several studies detailing the genome-wide functions of PML–RARα in acute promyelocytic leukemia. PML–RARα is the hallmark protein of promyelocytic leukemia, and many studies have been undertaken to identify PML–RARα target genes and deregulation of epigenetic modifications, the authors write. "The question still remains as to what the crucial determinant for PML–RARα binding to a particular region actually is. Is it the underlying motif, interaction with other transcription factors, the chromatin accessibility, or a combination of all three?" they add.

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