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This Week in Lancet Oncology: Jan 18, 2012

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In Lancet Oncology this week, an international team of researchers presents findings from a study of the utility of EGFR expression as a predictor of survival in non-small-cell lung cancer patients treated with first-line chemotherapy and cetuximab. The team prospectively collected EGFR expression data from the tumors or 1,121 patients, and found that high EGFR expression was associated with longer overall survival in patients treated with chemotherapy plus cetuximab compared to those treated with chemotherapy alone. The team found no comparable survival benefit in patients with low EGFR expression. "High EGFR expression is a tumor biomarker that can predict survival benefit from the addition of cetuximab to first-line chemotherapy in patients with advanced NSCLC," the authors write. "Assessment of EGFR expression could offer a personalized treatment approach in this setting."

In Lancet Oncology online in advance this week, researchers in France assess the efficacy of various combinations of chemoradiotherapy and accelerated radiotherapy for the treatment of advanced head and neck squamous cells carcinoma. The team randomly assigned 840 head and neck cancer patients to receive either conventional chemoradiotherapy, accelerated radiotherapy-chemotherapy, or very accelerated radiotherapy alone. They conclude that "chemotherapy has a substantial treatment effect given concomitantly with radiotherapy and acceleration of radiotherapy cannot compensate for the absence of chemotherapy. We noted the most favorable outcomes for conventional chemoradiotherapy, suggesting that acceleration of radiotherapy is probably not beneficial in concomitant chemoradiotherapy schedules."

Also in Lancet Oncology this week, researchers in the UK report safety results from a trial of conventional versus hypofractionated high-dose intensity-modulated radiotherapy for the treatment of prostate cancer. The team randomly assigned patients with localized prostate cancer to receive either conventional or hypofractionated high-dose intensity-modulated radiotherapy, and found that the treatments were equally well tolerated after two years.

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.