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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: Mar 20, 2012

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, a team led by researchers at the University of Dundee in the UK examines the use of anti-diabetic drug phenformin as prohylaxis and therapy for breast cancer. Using estrogen receptor (ER)-positive MCF7 and receptor triple-negative MDAMB231 xenograft mice, the team split the animals into four groups — one treated with phenformin before being injected with cancer cells, one treated with phenformin after tumors had formed, one treated with diabetes drug metformin after tumors had formed, and one untreated control group. "Phenformin significantly inhibited both the development and growth of MCF7 and MDAMB231 tumors, and for MDAMB231 at greater efficacy than metformin without murine toxicity," the team found. "Results suggested that the mechanism of action of phenformin in vivo is consistent with AMPK activation."

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in France report on the activation of the Hedgehog pathway in human transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder. The team analyzed expression levels of the 31 genes and nine microRNAs of the Hedgehog pathway in 71 bladder cancer samples and six bladder cancer cell lines. They found that the SHH ligand gene and Gli-inducible target genes were over-expressed in the tumor samples, compared to normal tissue. In addition, the team writes, "Altered expression of miRNAs supported their oncogene or tumor-suppressor gene status. … Some protein-coding genes and miRNAs involved in the Hh pathway may have prognostic value at the individual level."

And finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Germany examine the prognostic value of microsatellite instability and mutations in the B2M gene in colon cancer. The team determined microsatellite instability status in 223 colon cancer samples, and then looked for B2M mutations in the samples with high levels of microsatellite instability. "Patients with MSI-H colon cancer presented with a significantly lower risk of relapse after 12 months of follow-up compared with MSS colon cancer patients," the team found. "Beta2-Microglobulin mutations were identified in 29.4% of MSI-H colon cancers and were associated with a complete absence of disease relapse or tumor-related death events."

The Scan

Rare Genetic Disease Partnership

A public-private partnership plans to speed the development of gene therapies for rare genetic diseases, Stat News writes.

Approval Sought for Alzheimer's Drug

The Wall Street Journal reports Eli Lilly has initiated a rolling submission to the US Food and Drug Administration to seek approval for its drug to treat Alzheimer's disease.

DNA Barcoding Paper Retracted

Science reports that a 2014 DNA barcoding paper was retracted after a co-author brought up data validity concerns.

Nature Papers Present Genomic Analysis of Bronze Age Mummies, Approach to Study Host-Pathogen Interactions

In Nature this week: analysis finds Tarim mummies had local genetic origin, and more.