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This Week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute: Mar 29, 2012

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In the Journal of the National Cancer Institute this week, a team of US researchers studies the effect of body mass index on the risk of lung cancer for never, current, and former smokers. The team prospectively examined the association between BMI and lung cancer risk in 448,732 men and women, and found that BMI was inversely associated with lung cancer incidence among both men and women. "The inverse association was restricted to current and former smokers and was stronger after adjustment for smoking," the authors write. "Among smokers, the inverse association persisted even after finely stratifying on smoking status, time since quitting smoking, and number of cigarettes smoked per day."

Also in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute this week, researchers from the US and UK examine methylation in the human papillomavirus type 16 genome. The team analyzed DNA from cervical cells collected from a large cohort of Costa Rican women who underwent multiple screenings for cervical cancer and were diagnosed with either cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 or persistent HPV16 infection. "Increased methylation in diagnostic [versus] control specimens at nine CpG sites, three in each L1, L2, and E2/E4 genomic regions, was associated with an increased risk of CIN3 and persistence," the team found. "High methylation at three of these CpG sites was associated with a much higher risk when combined compared with low methylation at these sites."

Finally in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute this week, researchers in Germany examine the potential therapeutic effect of anti-epithelial cell adhesion molecule antibodies in pancreatic cancer. EpCAM is over-expressed in many cancers, the researchers write. For this study, they linked the anti-DNA transcription toxin α-amanitin to an anti-EpCAM monoclonal antibody, and tested it on human pancreatic, colorectal, breast, and bile duct cancer cell lines in vitro, and in immunocompromised pancreatic cancer-bearing mice in vivo. They found that the molecule reduced cell proliferation in all of the cell lines, and inhibited tumor growth in the mice. Higher doses also caused tumor regression in the animals. "This preclinical study suggests that anti-EpCAM antibody conjugates with α-amanitin have the potential to be highly effective therapeutic agents for pancreatic carcinomas and various EpCAM-expressing malignancies," the team adds.

The Scan

Shape of Them All

According to BBC News, researchers have developed a protein structure database that includes much of the human proteome.

For Flu and More

The Wall Street Journal reports that several vaccine developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.

To Boost Women

China's Ministry of Science and Technology aims to boost the number of female researchers through a new policy, reports the South China Morning Post.

Science Papers Describe Approach to Predict Chemotherapeutic Response, Role of Transcriptional Noise

In Science this week: neural network to predict chemotherapeutic response in cancer patients, and more.