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

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Ireland and Sweden examine the functional and prognostic value of the homeobox protein MSX2 in patients with malignant melanoma. The researchers analyzed tumor samples from 218 melanoma patients, and found that ectopic expression of MSX2 resulted in apoptosis of the cancer cells and reduced their invasive capacity. "MSX2 over-expression was shown to affect several signaling pathways associated with cell invasion and survival," the authors write. "Downregulation of N-Cadherin, induction of p21 and inhibition of both BCL2 and Survivin were observed." In addition, cytoplasmic MSX2 expression correlated significantly with increased recurrence-free survival, though nuclear expression of MSX2 did not. "Cytoplasmic expression of the protein was identified as biomarker for good prognosis in malignant melanoma patients," the team adds.

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Australia say that metabolic response, as measured by a F-fluorodeoxyglucose PET scan, can predict outcomes in anal cancer patients treated with chemoradiotherapy. The team studied a total of 48 patients with biopsy-proven squamous cell carcinoma of the anus, who had undergone FDG-PET scans at baseline and after treatment. In all, the team says, 79 percent of the patients had a complete metabolic response at all disease sites, 15 percent had a complete response in regional nodes and 6 percent had progressive distant disease despite complete response locoregionally. The two-year progression-free survival rate was 95 percent in the patients with complete metabolic response, 71 percent for the partial response patients, and 0 percent for the non-responsive patients. "FDG-PET metabolic response to chemoradiotherapy in anal cancer is significantly associated with progression-free survival and overall survival, and in this cohort incomplete FDG-PET response was a stronger predictor than T or N stage," the team writes.

And finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, US researchers search the scientific literature to see if they can find evidence showing that mitochondrial recoupling could be used as a novel anti-cancer therapeutic. Recent studies have shown a link between the metabolic transformation of cancer cells and the aberrant functions of mitochondrial uncoupling proteins, the authors write. "By inducing proton leak, UCPs interfere with mitochondrial synthesis of adenosine 5′-triphosphate, which is also a key determinant of glycolytic pathways," they add. "In addition, UCP suppress the generation of superoxide, a byproduct of mitochondrial electron transport and a major source of oxidative stress." Inhibition of mitochondrial uncoupling may eliminate these responses.

The Scan

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.