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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: Feb 28, 2012

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers from Washington University School of Medicine report the role of sigma-2 ligands in cancer cell death. The team treated EMT-6 mouse breast cancer cells and MDA-MB-435 human melanoma cells with sigma-2 ligands and found that three of these ligands induced DNA fragmentation, activated caspase-3, and caused PARP-1 cleavage. "These data suggest that sigma-2 ligand-induced apoptosis and caspase activation are partially responsible for the cell death," the authors write. "These data suggest that sigma-2 ligands also impair cell-cycle progression in multiple phases of the cell cycle."

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Germany report that loss of PTEN in salivary gland cancer is associated with worse prognosis. The team studied 287 salivary gland carcinoma samples and found hemizygous PTEN deletion in 15.1 percent of the tumors and homozygous PTEN deletion in 7.3 percent of the samples. The deletions were associated with "high-grade malignancy, lymph node metastases and unfavorable long-term prognosis," the authors write. In addition, they found that "loss of PTEN expression … was significantly correlated to genomic PTEN deletion, high-grade malignancy, increased tumor size, lymph node metastases and worse disease-specific survival."

Finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Japan examine FGFR2 gene amplification in gastric cancer. The team analyzed preserved gastric cancer tissue samples and found that amplification of FGFR2 confers hypersensitivity to FGFR inhibition. "Although the difference was not significant, patients with FGFR2 amplification tended to exhibit a shorter overall survival period," the authors write. "Our results strongly encourage the development of FGFR-targeted therapy for gastric cancers with FGFR2 amplification."

The Scan

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.

Study Reveals Potential Sex-Specific Role for Noncoding RNA in Depression

A long, noncoding RNA called FEDORA appears to be a sex-specific regulator of major depressive disorder, affecting more women, researchers report in Science Advances.

New mRNA Vaccines Offer Hope for Fighting Malaria

A George Washington University-led team has developed mRNA vaccines for malaria that appear to provide protection in mice, as they report in NPJ Vaccines.

Unique Germline Variants Found Among Black Prostate Cancer Patients

Through an exome sequencing study appearing in JCO Precision Oncology, researchers have found unique pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants within a cohort of Black prostate cancer patients.