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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: Mar 14, 2011

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers present their results of a Phase I study of the safety and tolerability of olaparib and dacarbazine in patients with advanced solid tumors. Olaparib is a potential poly adenosine diphosphate-ribose polymerase inhibitor — this inhibition can be toxic to tumor cells, the authors write. In order to proceed to Phase II trials, the researchers wanted to define tolerable doses of both compounds, however, they found "there were no responses in chemonaive melanoma patients, demonstrating no clinical advantage over single-agent dacarbazine at these doses."

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle say that pre-diagnostic NSAID use is associated with improved colorectal cancer survival rates in women. NSAIDs, like aspirin, and hormone therapy both decrease the risk of colorectal cancer. However, NSAID use before diagnosis — unlike hormone therapy — was also associated with reduced risk of colorectal cancer mortality for women diagnosed with proximal tumors.

A team of researchers in the UK present a novel diagnostic approach to the interrogation of endometrial tissue using infrared spectroscopy and multivariate analysis. The researchers obtained tissue from 76 patients undergoing hysterectomy, 36 of whom had endometrial cancer. They subjected the samples of endometrial tissue — both normal and cancerous — to attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform IR spectroscopy. "Using this approach, it is possible to distinguish benign from malignant endometrial tissue, and various subtypes of both," the researchers write. "These findings point towards the possibility of a simple objective test for endometrial cancer using ATR-FTIR spectroscopy. This would facilitate earlier diagnosis and so reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with this disease."

And finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, a research team in Japan suggests that microRNAs miR-1 and miR-133a, both of which are known to be tumor-suppressive, are significantly downregulated in bladder cancer. "MiR-1 and miR-133a showed potential role of tumor suppressors by functional analyses of bladder cancer cells such as cell proliferation, apoptosis, migration, and invasion assays," the researchers write. In examining the miRNA expression signature of several bladder cancer specimens, the team found that both miRNAs regulate the TAGLN2 gene, the silencing of which can inhibit cell proliferation and increase cell death in bladder cancer. "Novel molecular networks provided by miRNAs may provide new insights into the underlying molecular mechanisms of bladder cancer," the authors conclude.

The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.