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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: Sep 20, 2011

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, a team of US researchers writes that preventing the recurrence of ErbB-2-positive breast tumors requires targeting both the ErbB-2 and Notch oncogene signaling pathways. Notch-1 is activated when some breast cancers are treated with trastuzumab, and can contribute to trastuzumab resistance. For this study, the team generated breast tumor xenografts from trastuzumab- or lapatinib-sensitive and trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer cells, and added two different Notch-1 inhibitors. The results show, the team says, that adding the Notch-1 inhibitor to trastuzumab treatment prevented or significantly reduced breast tumor recurrence, and partially reversed trastuzumab resistance in resistant tumors. In addition, the authors write, adding the Notch inhibitor to lapatinib treatment resulted in significant reduction of tumor growth.

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Australia and Japan team up to present a clinical evaluation of the use of autologous gamma delta T cell-based immunotherapy for the treatment of metastatic solid tumors. The researchers enrolled 18 patients with advanced solid tumors into a phase I trial of gamma delta T cells in combination with zoledronate. They found that the cells were cytotoxic in vitro against tumor targets, and no dose-limiting toxicity was observed. Three patients, while continuing on previously ineffective therapy, had diseases responses, suggesting the T cells added to the treatment's potency. "Therapy with aminobisphosphonate-activated Vγ9Vδ2 T cells is feasible and well tolerated, but therapeutic benefits appear only likely when used in combination with other therapies," the team writes.

And finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, UK researchers study how patient and hospital features influence outcomes for small-cell lung cancer patients in England. The team studied data from 7,845 small-cell lung cancer patients, 61 percent of which received chemotherapy. The researchers found that increasing age, worsening performance status, higher disease stage, and comorbidity reduced the likelihood that the patient would receive chemotherapy, and that there was wide variation in access to chemotherapy between hospitals in general. Patients first seen in clinics with a strong interest in clinical trials for lung cancer treatments had higher odds of receiving chemotherapy, the team writes, which was associated with a lower mortality rate.

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