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This Week in Cancer Cell: Sep 23, 2011

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In Cancer Cell this week, US researchers, including NCI's Harold Varmus, present a study on lung cancer signatures in plasma, based on proteome profiling of mouse tumor models. The team compared plasma protein profiles of four mouse models of lung cancer with profiles of models of pancreatic, ovarian, colon, prostate, and breast cancer, and two models of inflammation. "A protein signature for Titf1/Nkx2-1, a known lineage-survival oncogene in lung cancer, was found in plasmas of mouse models of lung adenocarcinoma. An EGFR signature was found in plasma of an EGFR mutant model, and a distinct plasma signature related to neuroendocrine development was uncovered in the small-cell lung cancer model," the authors write. These results demonstrate that the protein signatures identified in mouse models have relevance to human lung cancer, they add.

Also in Cancer Cell this week, researchers in the Netherlands and Japan report that mesenchymal stem cells induce resistance to chemotherapy by releasing platinum-induced fatty acids. Endogenous mesenchymal stem cells become activated during treatment with platinum analogs, the team writes. The researchers identified two distinct platinum-induced polyunsaturated fatty acids that can induce resistance to a broad range of chemotherapeutics, even when they are present in minute quantities. "Interestingly, blocking central enzymes involved in the production of these platinum-induced polyunsaturated fatty acids prevents MSC-induced resistance," the authors write. "Our findings show that MSCs are potent mediators of resistance to chemotherapy and reveal targets to enhance chemotherapy efficacy in patients."

And finally in Cancer Cell this week, researchers in Texas and Taiwan report that the BIKDD gene eliminates breast cancer initiating cells, and combines effectively with lapatinib to treat breast cancer. BIKDD is a constitutively active mutant form of pro-apoptotic gene BIK. In this study, the authors show that it effectively induces apoptosis of breast cancer cells. "We developed a cancer-specific targeting approach for breast cancer that selectively expresses BikDD in breast cancer cells including breast cancer initiating cells, and demonstrated its potent antitumor activity and synergism with lapatinib in vitro and in vivo," the authors write.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.