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This Week in the British Journal of Cancer: May 31, 2011

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In the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in the UK report on the difference in prognosis for breast cancer detected by screens and symptomatic breast cancer. The researchers analyzed 10-year survival data from more than 19,000 breast cancer patients, and found that survival in the screen-detected cases was 79.3 percent, compared with 62.8 percent in the symptomatic cases. "Our results suggested that a combination of lead time with size and node status in 10 categories explained almost all of the survival advantage," the researchers write.

Also in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Sweden and Germany say the PROX1 transcription factor is a novel predictor of survival in patients with grade II gliomas. PROX1 has been associated with both oncogenic and tumor-suppressive functions in human cancers. The researchers analyzed a total of 116 glioma samples and searched for the presence of the PROX1 protein. They found that higher PROX1 protein was associated with poor outcome, and that its presence can be used as a biomarker of survival.

Finally in the British Journal of Cancer this week, researchers in Japan present findings from a study of the association between cancer prognosis and the DNA-dependent protein kinase activity of peripheral blood lymphocytes. DNA-dependent protein kinase plays a role in the repair of DNA double-strand breaks. By studying 167 untreated cancer patients, the researchers found that DNA-dependent kinase activity in the peripheral blood lymphocytes of advanced cancer patients was significantly lower than in early-stage patients. Patients with lower kinase activity tended to have lower disease-specific survival rates, the authors write, and the kinase activity of most patients decreased in response to radiation treatments. "Cancer patients in advanced stage, with lower DNA-PK activity of peripheral blood lymphocytes might have higher distant metastasis and exhibit poorer prognosis," the team adds. "Therefore, DNA-PK activity in peripheral blood lymphocytes could be used as a marker to predict the chromosomal instability and poorer prognosis."

The Scan

Should've Been Spotted Sooner

Scientists tell the Guardian that SARS-CoV-2 testing issues at a UK lab should have been noticed earlier.

For Martian Fuel

Researchers have outlined a plan to produce rocket fuel on Mars that uses a combination of sunlight, carbon dioxide, frozen water, cyanobacteria, and engineered E. coli, according to Gizmodo.

To Boost Rapid Testing

The Washington Post writes that new US programs aim to boost the availability of rapid at-home SARS-CoV-2 tests.

PNAS Papers on Strawberry Evolution, Cell Cycle Regulators, False-Positive Triplex Gene Editing

In PNAS this week: strawberry pan-genome, cell cycle-related roles for MDM2 and MDMX, and more.