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This Week in Cancer Discovery: May 30, 2012

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In Cancer Discovery, researchers in the US and Australia report that pre-existing MEK1 exon 3 mutations in V600E/KBRAF melanomas don't confer resistance to BRAF inhibitors. The team sequenced MEK1/2 exon 3 in 31 melanomas at disease diagnosis and at progression, and found that five of them carried concurrent somatic BRAF/MEK1 activating mutations. Three of those five patients showed objective responses to BRAF inhibitors, consistent with the overall response rate to these drugs. "MEK1-mutant expression in V600E/KBRAF melanoma cell lines resulted in no significant alterations in p-ERK1/2 levels or growth-inhibitory sensitivities to BRAFi, MEK1/2 inhibitor, or their combination," the authors write. "Thus, activating MEK1 exon 3 mutations identified herein and concurrent with V600E/KBRAF do not cause BRAF [inhibitor] resistance in melanoma."

Also in Cancer Discovery, researchers at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute present their functional characterization of an isoform-selective inhibitor of PI3K-p110β. The team used a panel of PI3K isoform-specific cellular assays to screen compounds that act against kinases in the PI3K superfamily. They identified a selective p110β inhibitor called KIN-193, which they say is "efficacious specifically in blocking AKT signaling and tumor growth that are dependent on p110β activation or PTEN loss." When the drug was profiled across a panel of 422 human tumor cell lines, the team found that the cancer cells' PTEN mutation status strongly correlated with their response to KIN-193. "Together, our data provide the first pharmacologic evidence that PTEN-deficient tumors are dependent on p110β in animals and suggest that KIN-193 can be pursued as a drug to treat tumors that are dependent on p110β while sparing other PI3K isoforms," they add.

The Scan

More Boosters for US

Following US Food and Drug Administration authorization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has endorsed booster doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, the Washington Post writes.

From a Pig

A genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a human without triggering an immune response, Reuters reports.

For Privacy's Sake

Wired reports that more US states are passing genetic privacy laws.

Science Paper on How Poaching Drove Evolution in African Elephants

In Science this week: poaching has led to the rapid evolution of tuskless African elephants.