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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: Mar 6, 2012

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Greece report an association between cancer stem cell phenotype and outcome of radio-chemotherapy in patients with locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinomas. The team examined the cancer stem cell populations of 74 patients treated with accelerated platinum-based radiotherapy. They found that expression of cancer stem cell markers CD44, CD24, and Oct4 were significantly associated with the cancer cell proliferation marker MIB-1. " CD44, Oct4, and integrin-β1 were all associated with poor prognosis but, in a multivariate analysis, the integrin-β1 had an independent statistical significance in terms of local relapse, distant metastases and overall survival," the team adds. "CSC markers are linked with poor radiotherapy outcome in HNSCC, with integrin-β1 being the strongest and independent prognostic factor. Targeting CSC molecules with monoclonal antibodies or pharmaceutical agents may prove important for the treatment of HNSCC."

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Japan find that the oral serine-threonine kinase inhibitor enzastaurin has anti-tumor effects in lung cancers with over-expressed JAK pathway molecules. The team applied enzastaurin to 22 lung cancer cell lines, and found that the JAK/STAT signaling pathway was sensitive to the compound. "Overexpression of JAK1 was observed in the sensitive cells," the team writes. "Simultaneous administration of enzastaurin and JAK inhibitor inhibited enzastaurin-induced cell growth-inhibitory effect. Furthermore, lentiviral-mediated JAK1-overexpressing cells were more sensitive to enzastaurin than control cells."

Finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Austria report that the serum 20S proteasome is associated with poor prognosis in patients with renal cell carcinoma. The researchers determined preoperative 20S proteasome serum levels in 113 patients and 15 healthy controls, and found that median 20S proteasome levels were higher in renal cell carcinoma patients than in controls. In addition, the team writes, "the 20S proteasome levels were associated with symptoms, distant metastases, grade, and necrosis. The 20S proteasome levels were identified as a prognostic factor for [disease-specific survival]."

The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.