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This Week in Lancet Oncology: May 16, 2012

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In Lancet Oncology, researchers from China report their microRNA expression analysis of nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and discuss the possible prognostic value of an miRNA signature. The team retrospectively analyzed miRNA profiles of 312 nasopharyngeal carcinoma samples and 18 samples of non-cancer nasopharyngitis. Using an 873-probe microarray, the researchers found that 41 miRNAs were differentially expressed between the cancerous and non-cancerous samples. Further, they identified a set of five miRNAs, each of which was significantly associated with disease-free survival in patients. "The five-miRNA signature was an independent prognostic factor" of survival, the authors write. "A combination of this signature and TNM [tumor node metastasis] stage had better prognostic value than did TNM stage alone."

Also in Lancet Oncology, researchers in Germany and Switzerland compare the benefits of temozolomide chemotherapy alone versus radiotherapy alone in elderly patients with malignant astrocytoma. The role of primary chemotherapy in these patients is unclear, the researchers write, and radiotherapy is the standard of care. For this study, the team randomly assigned anaplastic astrocytoma or glioblastoma patients aged 65 or older to receive either temozolomide or radiotherapy. The median overall survival was 8.6 months in the temozolomide group compared with 9.6 months in the radiotherapy group. Further, tumor MGMT promoter methylation was observed in about 35 percent of the patients and was associated with longer overall survival than unmethylated status. "[Event-free survival] was longer in patients with MGMT promoter methylation who received temozolomide than in those who underwent radiotherapy," the team writes, "whereas the opposite was true for patients with no methylation of the MGMT promoter. … MGMT promoter methylation seems to be a useful biomarker for outcomes by treatment and could aid decision-making."

The Scan

Boosters Chasing Variants

The New York Times reports that an FDA advisory panel is to weigh updated booster vaccines for COVID-19.

Not Yet

The World Health Organization says monkeypox is not yet a global emergency, the Washington Post reports.

More Proposed for Federal Research

Science reports that US House of Representatives panels are seeking to increase federal research funding.

PLOS Papers on Breast Cancer Metastasis, Left-Sided Cardiac Defects, SARS-CoV-2 Monitoring

In PLOS this week: link between breast cancer metastasis and CLIC4, sequencing analysis of left-sided cardiac defects, and more.