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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: Jan 24, 2012

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Germany examine the efficacy of cetuximab therapy in elderly metastatic colorectal cancer patients with co-morbidities. The team recruited 657 total patients — 309 of which were 65 and 305 of which were over 65 — and administered cetuximab combined with irinotecan. The team found that higher-grade toxicities occurred in about 20 percent of the patients with no difference in any of the age groups, even though many of the older patients had existing co-morbidities. The objective response rate was 37.9 percent for the 18 to 65 group, and 35.4 percent for the over 65 group. In addition, progression-free survival did not differ between the age groups, the team writes.

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Norway ask why patients with radiation-induced sarcomas have a poor sarcoma-survival rate. The team compared the sarcoma-related survival of 98 patients with radiation-induced sarcoma to that of 239 patients with sporadic malignant sarcoma, and found that the cumulative sarcoma-related survival rate for the radiation-induced patients was 32 percent, compared to 51 percent for the sporadic sarcoma patients. "Female gender, central tumor site and incomplete surgical remission were significantly more frequent among [radiation-induced sarcoma] patients than in controls," the authors write. "The poor prognosis of RIS patients are not due to the previous radiotherapy per se, but related to the unfavorable factors — central tumor site, incomplete surgical remission, microscopic tumor necrosis and the presence of metastases, the two former factors overrepresented in RIS."

Finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Finland report their study of the DNA repair enzyme human 8-oxoguanine glycosylase — hOGG1 — and how its absence is associated with aggressive breast cancer. A marker of DNA damage, 8-Oxo-7,8-dihydro-2′-deoxyguanosine — 8-oxodG — can be abundantly present in cancerous tissues, and hOGG1 participates in its removal, the team says. For this study, the researchers measured hOGG1 expression in 96 patients with local or locally advanced breast cancer, and in 20 lesions of non-malignant breast cancer, and found that the enzyme was over-expressed in invasive lesions compared to non-invasive lesions. "Lack of hOGG1 expression was associated with the most poor prognostic factors of breast cancer," the authors write. "In addition, all triple-negative breast carcinomas were hOGG1 negative. Patients with a lack of both hOGG1- and 8-oxodG immunostaining showed extremely poor breast cancer-specific survival compared with those with either 8-oxodG- or hOGG1-positive tumors."

The Scan

Driving Malaria-Carrying Mosquitoes Down

Researchers from the UK and Italy have tested a gene drive for mosquitoes to limit the spread of malaria, NPR reports.

Office Space to Lab Space

The New York Times writes that some empty office spaces are transforming into lab spaces.

Prion Pause to Investigate

Science reports that a moratorium on prion research has been imposed at French public research institutions.

Genome Research Papers on Gut Microbe Antibiotic Response, Single-Cell RNA-Seq Clues to Metabolism, More

In Genome Research this week: gut microbial response to antibiotic treatment, approach to gauge metabolic features from single-cell RNA sequencing, and more.