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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: Jul 26, 2011

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers from the US, China, and Japan target colon cancer stem cells using the curcumin analog GO-Y030. The team examined colon cancer stem cells, which are characterized by ALDH-positive and CD133-positive subpopulations. The ALDH+/CD133+ cells showed higher levels of STAT3 than ALDH-negative/CD133-negative colon cancer cells, which suggests that STAT3 is activated in colon cancer, the authors write. GO-Y030 then inhibits STAT3 phosphorylation, cell viability, and tumorsphere formation in colon cancer stem cells. "Our results indicate that STAT3 is a novel therapeutic target in colon cancer stem cells, and inhibition of activated STAT3 in cancer stem cells by GO-Y030 may offer an effective treatment for colorectal cancer," the team adds.

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Germany say that connective tissue growth factor is over-expressed in malignant melanoma and promotes invasion and migration of the cancer into healthy cells. The team analyzed CTGF expression in melanoma cell lines and tissue samples, and found that CTGF expression is up-regulated in nine melanoma cells lines and in primary and metastatic melanoma in situ. "Melanoma cells, in which CTGF expression is diminished, show a strong reduction of migratory and invasive properties when compared with controls," the authors write. "Further, treatment of normal human epidermal melanocytes with recombinant CTGF leads to an increase of migratory and invasive behavior of these cells."

Finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in the UK write that circulating tumor markers can define which patients have normal colons, which have polyps, and which have cancer. Early diagnosis is the best opportunity to cure colorectal cancer, but current screening program use fecal occult blood testing, which has limited sensitivity, the authors write. In this study, the team looked at a series of previously described diagnostic markers using circulating free DNA, and found that the best cfDNA model was able to "discriminate normal from populations with adenoma or carcinoma using three DNA markers and carcinoembryonic antigen ... with a positive predictive value of 81.1 percent for polyps and cancer diagnosis."

The Scan

Dropped Charges

The US Justice Department has dropped visa fraud charges against five Chinese researchers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

More Kids

The Associated Press says Moderna is expanding its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine study to included additional children and may include even younger children.

PNAS Papers on Rat Clues to Human Migration, Thyroid Cancer, PolyG-DS

In PNAS this week: ancient rat genome analysis gives hints to human migrations, WDR77 gene mutations in thyroid cancer, and more.

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.