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This Week in Cancer Discovery: Aug 8, 2012

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In Cancer Discovery this week, Novartis researchers report on how secreted proteins may induce resistance to kinase inhibitors in some cancer patients. The team developed a high-throughput platform for screening a cDNA library encoding 3,482 secreted proteins in cellular assays. "Using cancer cells originally dependent on either MET, FGFR2, or FGFR3, we observed a bypass of dependence through ligand-mediated activation of alternative [receptor tyrosine kinases]," the authors write. "Our findings indicate a broad and versatile potential for RTKs from the HER and FGFR families as well as MET to compensate for loss of each other." This also suggests that combination treatments to inhibit several active receptor tyrosine kinases at the same time can lead to further anti-cancer effects.

Also in Cancer Discovery this week, a team of US researchers led by the University of Massachusetts Medical School's Hira Lal Goel describe a novel mechanism of aggressive prostate cancer. The team found that VEGF receptor neuropilin-2 is associated with high-grade, PTEN-null prostate cancer, "and that its expression in tumor cells is induced by PTEN loss as a consequence of c-Jun activation." Goel et al. observed that VEGF/NRP2 signaling represses the expression and signaling of IGF-1R through a mechanism that involves Bmi-1-mediated transcriptional repression of the IGF-1R. "This mechanism has significant functional and therapeutic implications that were evaluated," the authors write. "IGF-1R expression correlates with PTEN and inversely with NRP2 in prostate tumors. NRP2 is a robust biomarker for predicting response to IGF-1R therapy because prostate carcinomas that express NRP2 exhibit low levels of IGF-1R."

The Scan

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.