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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: Jan 10, 2012

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Austria examine the impact of anti-HER2 therapy on the survival of patients with HER2 over-expressing breast cancers that have metastasized to the brain. The team analyzed data from 80 such patients and found that median overall survival for patients receiving trastuzumab after diagnosis of brain metastasis was 13 months, compared to nine months in patients treated with chemotherapy alone, and three months in patients treated with radiotherapy alone. The combination treatment of lapatinib and trastuzumab prolonged overall survival beyond trastuzumab alone. "This retrospective single-centre study suggests that the introduction of lapatinib improved survival in patients with brain metastasis from HER2-positive breast cancer," the authors write. "Patients … may benefit when treated with lapatinib in addition to trastuzumab after completion of local therapy."

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Finland report that the compound salinomycin induces oxidative stress in prostate cancer cells, inhibiting the cancer's growth and migration. The team studied the action of salinomycin on a panel of prostate cancer cells and found that it reduced the activity of aldehyde dehydrogenase and the fraction of CD44+ cells. In addition, it reduced the expression of MYC, AR, and ERG in the cells. "Our results indicate that salinomycin inhibits prostate cancer cell growth and migration by reducing the expression of key prostate cancer oncogenes, inducing oxidative stress, decreasing the antioxidative capacity and cancer stem cell fraction," the authors write.

Finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, US researchers report on a phase I clinical trial of the Src inhibitor dasatinib in combination with dacarbazine for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. The researchers found that in 29 patients receiving the combination, the objective response rate was 13.8 percent, the clinical benefit rate was 72.4 percent, and the 12-month overall survival rate was 34.5 percent. The team recommended a continuation to phase II testing. "Preliminary data support evaluating tumor mutation status further as a biomarker of response," the authors add.

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