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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: Apr 14, 2011

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Massachusetts say there may be therapeutic potential in targeting the EGFR family in patients with epithelial ovarian cancer. Although anti-EGFR therapy has so far proven to have limited benefit against ovarian cancer, recent research shows that activation of ErbB3 may support the growth and proliferation of ovarian cancer cells, and that ErbB3 may serve as a potential therapeutic target for the disease, the authors write.

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report that chronic exposure of colorectal cancer cells to bevacizumab promotes compensatory pathways that mediate the migration of tumor cells. The researchers exposed human colorectal cancer cells to bevacizumab for three months in vitro and found that the bevacizumab-adapted cells that developed were more migratory and invasive than control cells, and more metastatic in vivo. "Chronic exposure of colorectal cancer cells to bevacizumab increased expression of VEGF-A, -B, -C, PlGF, VEGFR-1, and VEGFR-1 phosphorylation, increased tumor cell migration and invasion, and metastatic potential in vivo," the authors write.

And finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in the UK say mitochondrial DNA mutations are infrequent in head and neck cancer and lack utility as prognostic indicators. Mitochondrial DNA mutations that occur in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma are more frequently detected in the displacement-loop region, which is important because it controls mitochondrial gene expression and mtDNA replication, the authors write. However, when they screened the mitochondrial genome of six oral squamous cell carcinoma-derived cell lines, the researchers found that such mutations are not ubiquitous in head and neck cancer, and that while half of the cell lines had mtDNA abnormalities, only 18 percent of the tissue samples had D-loop mutations. "Taken together, these data suggest that mtDNA D-loop mutations are stochastic events that may not significantly influence the biology of [head and neck cancer] and supports the hypothesis that mtDNA mutations in cancer represent bystander genotoxic damage as a consequence of tumor development and progression," the researchers conclude.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.