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

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in China have identified miR-328 as a regulator of cancer stem cell-like side population cells in colorectal cancer. The team analyzed side population cells from colorectal cancer cell lines and primary cell cultures for stem cell-like properties, and found that the side population cells possessed properties like cancer stem cells, including self-renewal, differentiation, resistance to chemotherapy, and invasive and strong tumor formation ability. In addition, the team found that miR-328 expression was significantly reduced in side population cells compared to non-side population cells. "Moreover, miR-328 expression was downregulated in CRC and low miR-328 expression tend to correlate with high SP fraction," the authors write. "In addition, miR-328 overexpression reversed drug resistance and inhibited cell invasion of SP cells."

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Denmark report on co-morbidities in elderly cancer patients that may influence overall and cancer-related mortality. The team conducted a population-based study of all people 70 years and older diagnosed with breast, lung, colorectal, prostate, or ovarian cancer in one Danish province from 1996 to 2006. They found that elderly lung and colorectal cancer patients had significantly more co-morbidity than the background populations, and that severe co-morbidity was associated with higher overall mortality in the lung, colorectal, and prostate cancer patients. "Co-morbidity was associated with increased overall mortality in elderly cancer patients but not consistently with cancer-specific mortality," they write.

And finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine report on the association between Merkel cell virus and the histological presence of Merkel cell carcinoma in sentinel lymph nodes. The team compared Merkel cell carcinoma cases to negative controls, and found that Merkel cell virus was detectable in 94 percent of primary Merkel cell carcinoma samples. In addition, Merkel cell carcinoma was present in 20 percent of the sentinel lymph nodes, and it was detected in 44 percent of the Merkel cell carcinoma sentinel lymph nodes. "Patients with positive [sentinel lymph nodes] for [Merkel cell virus] even if negative by histopathology were identified," the authors write. "The application of molecular techniques to detect subhistologic disease in [sentinel lymph nodes] of [Merkel cell carcinoma] patients may identify a subset of patients who would benefit from adjuvant nodal treatment."

The Scan

Another Resignation

According to the Wall Street Journal, a third advisory panel member has resigned following the US Food and Drug Administration's approval of an Alzheimer's disease drug.

Novavax Finds Its Vaccine Effective

Reuters reports Novavax's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

Can't Be Used

The US Food and Drug Administration says millions of vaccine doses made at an embattled manufacturing facility cannot be used, the New York Times reports.

PLOS Papers on Frozen Shoulder GWAS, Epstein-Barr Effects on Immune Cell Epigenetics, More

In PLOS this week: genome-wide association study of frozen shoulder, epigenetic patterns of Epstein-Barr-infected B lymphocyte cells, and more.