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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

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.