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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: Apr 24, 2012


In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Germany report their comparison of blood-based inflammatory markers and fecal occult blood tests for screening patients for non-invasive colorectal cancer. The team analyzed C-reactive protein, serum CD26, complement C3a anaphylatoxin, and TIMP-1 levels in blood and fecal samples of 179 colorectal cancer patients, 193 people with advanced adenoma, and 225 people free of neoplasm. The team found that blood levels of CRP, sCD26, and TIMP-1 were statistically significantly different between colorectal cancer patients and neoplasm-free participants. Further, levels of TIMP-1 were significantly elevated in advanced adenoma patients. "At 97 percent specificity, blood markers showed much lower sensitivities than [fecal occult blood tests]," the authors write. "These blood-based markers do not seem to be an alternative to FOBT-based CRC screening. The potential use of these and other blood-based tests in combination with immunochemical FOBT might deserve further attention."

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Canada and Belgium perform a mutational analysis of the RAD51D gene in families with non-mutated-BRCA ovarian and breast cancer. The team analyzed the coding region of RAD51D in 175 BRCA-negative families with histories of both ovarian and breast cancer, and identified one previously reported deleterious mutation and two novel variants. "RAD51D should be included in genetic screening of ovarian cancer families that do not have BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations," the authors write. "We show that mutations are more likely to be found in families with two or more ovarian cancers, or in probands with first-degree relatives with ovarian cancer, and we feel testing should be preferentially offered to affected women from such families."

Finally in the British Journal of Cancer, researchers in the UK report that the expression of sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor 4 and sphingosine kinase 1 is associated with outcome in ER-negative breast cancer. The team assessed the clinical relevance of S1P4 and SK1 in 140 ER-negative breast tumors and found that high S1P4 expression correlated with shorter disease-free and disease-specific survival. Further, patients with high levels of SK1 and low levels of S1P4 had a significantly shorter disease-free and disease-specific survival, compared with patients who had low levels of both markers. "These findings highlight an important role for S1P4 and SK1 in ER- breast cancer progression," the authors write.

The Scan

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.