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

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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

More Boosters for US

Following US Food and Drug Administration authorization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, the Washington Post writes.

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A genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a human without triggering an immune response, Reuters reports.

For Privacy's Sake

Wired reports that more US states are passing genetic privacy laws.

Science Paper on How Poaching Drove Evolution in African Elephants

In Science this week: poaching has led to the rapid evolution of tuskless African elephants.