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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: May 8, 2012

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Hong Kong and Australia present a method to inhibit hepatocellular carcinoma metastases in cell lines and in mice. In previous studies, the team demonstrated that PPARγ activation inhibits hepatocarcinogenesis. For this study, the team infected human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines with adenovirus-expressing PPARγ, and found that these cells markedly suppressed cancer cell migration. Further, the researchers found that invasiveness of the treated cancer cells was diminished up to 60 percent. "Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma exerts an inhibitory effect on the invasive and metastatic potential of HCC [hepatocellular carcinoma] in vitro and in vivo, and is thus, a target for the prevention and treatment of HCC metastases," the team writes.

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Ireland show that apoptosome-dependent caspase activation proteins may be useful as prognostic markers for stage II and III colorectal cancers. The team performed a systematic analysis of the immunohistochemical expression of the key proteins involved in apoptosome-dependent caspase activation in a cohort of colorectal cancer patients, and found that Pro-caspase 3 and APAF1 "have potential clinical utility as predictive markers in stage II and III colorectal cancer, respectively." Further, the team reports having found that APAF1 was associated with better recurrence-free and overall survival in patients receiving chemotherapy.

Finally in the British Journal of Cancer, researchers in Denmark this week report on a role for human papilloma virus in head and neck cancer. The team examined fresh frozen and laser microdissected-paraffin-embedded samples from HPV-positive and HPV-negative head and neck cancer patients, finding that HPV-positive patients showed a distinct miRNA profile from HPV-negative patients. "This study adds new knowledge to the known pathogenic pathways of HPV and substantiates the oncogenic role of HPV in subsets of HNSCCs [head and neck squamous cell carcinomas]," the team adds.

The Scan

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.

Study Explores Animated Digital Message Approach to Communicate Genetic Test Results to Family Members

In the Journal of Genetic Counseling, the approach showed promise in participants presented with a hypothetical scenario related to a familial hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome diagnosis.

Computational Tool Predicts Mammalian Messenger RNA Degradation Rates

A tool called Saluki, trained with mouse and human messenger RNA data, appears to improve mRNA half-life predictions by taking RNA and genetic features into account, a Genome Biology paper reports.

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.