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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: Apr 17, 2012

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in the UK report that NT5E is epigenetically regulated in patients with malignant melanoma. The team analyzed the expression and regulation of NT5E in malignant melanoma cell lines, and in samples of primary and metastatic melanomas, and found that the gene is subject to epigenetic regulation in the disease. It is down-regulated by methylation-dependent transcriptional silencing in several cell lines, the team writes. "Confirmation of our results in larger clinical series would support the candidacy of NT5E as a clinical biomarker in melanoma, which could be applied in both primary and relapsed disease," the authors add. "Inhibition of NT5E may have therapeutic potential in melanoma, particularly in patients with more aggressive disease metastatic to viscera or the brain."

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center observe a survival advantage for diabetic colorectal cancer patients taking metformin. The team retrospectively analyzed data from 424 patients with both type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer. Of those patients, the ones treated with metformin had a survival of 76.9 months, compared to 56.9 months in the patients who didn't take metformin. "Type II diabetic patients treated with metformin had a 30 percent improvement in overall survival when compared with diabetic patients treated with other diabetic agents," the team adds.

Finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Japan report that high expression of Lin28 — a negative regulator of tumor suppressor microRNA let-7 — in esophageal cancer patients is associated with poor prognosis. The team examined Lin28 expression in 161 esophageal cancer samples and found that it was over-expressed in the cancer cells, compared to non-cancerous epithelial cells. In addition, the team says, high expression was significantly associated with lymph node metastasis, poor prognosis, and low expression of let-7. "These effects are mediated through increased proliferation and invasiveness of esophageal cancer cells," the researchers add.

The Scan

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

TB Resistance Insights Gleaned From Genome Sequence, Antimicrobial Response Assays

Researchers in PLOS Biology explore M. tuberculosis resistance with a combination of sequencing and assays looking at the minimum inhibitory concentrations of 13 drugs.

Mendelian Disease Genes Prioritized Using Tissue-Specific Expression Clues

Mendelian gene candidates could be flagged for further functional analyses based on tissue-specific transcriptome and proteome profiles, a new Journal of Human Genetics paper says.

Single-Cell Sequencing Points to Embryo Mosaicism

Mosaicism may affect preimplantation genetic tests for aneuploidy, a single-cell sequencing-based analysis of almost three dozen embryos in PLOS Genetics finds.