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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: Nov 15, 2011


In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in France say a high rate of extra-hematological toxicity compromises dose-dense sequential adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer. The team treated high-risk node-positive patients with three cycles of fluorouracil, epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide, followed by three cycles of docetaxel. The patients were randomly assigned to two groups, the first of which received uninterrupted treatment, and the second of which received docetaxel two weeks after treatment with FEC. The researchers were forced to stop enrollment into the first group after observing "severe skin toxicities" in the participants, and then subsequently closed the study because of a high rate of skin toxicities in both groups. "Sequential dose-dense FEC 100 followed by docetaxel is not feasible," the authors write. "Feasibility still depends largely on several factors including the choice of drugs, dosage and sequence of administration."

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Northern Ireland investigate the role of the protein Cathepsin S as a marker of prognosis and chemotherapy benefit in colorectal cancer. In analyzing data from 560 colorectal cancer patients, the team found that more than 95 percent of the tumors had detectable CatS expression. Increased CatS levels were associated with reduced recurrence-free survival in patients treated with surgery alone. The researchers also found that adjuvant chemotherapy significantly improved recurrence-free survival for patients with high CatS levels, but did not benefit patients with low CatS levels. "These results signify that CatS may be an important prognostic biomarker and predictive of response to adjuvant fluorouracil/folinic acid [treatment] in colorectal cancer," the authors write.

And finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, a team of US researchers says that targeting PIM kinase in renal cell carcinoma enhances the action of sunitinib against the disease. The team applied a combination treatment of sunitinib and a novel small molecule PIM kinase inhibitor, SGI-1776, to in vivo tumor xenografts, and found that treatment with SGI-1776 "led to a decrease in phosphorylated and total c-Myc levels, which resulted in the modulation of c-Myc target genes." The two drugs together "induced a further reduction in c-Myc levels, which was associated with enhanced anticancer activity," the authors add. "Importantly, the combination significantly reduced tumor burden in two renal cell carcinoma xenograft models compared with single-agent therapy and was very well tolerated."

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.