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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

Another Resignation

According to the Wall Street Journal, a third advisory panel member has resigned following the US Food and Drug Administration's approval of an Alzheimer's disease drug.

Novavax Finds Its Vaccine Effective

Reuters reports Novavax's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

Can't Be Used

The US Food and Drug Administration says millions of vaccine doses made at an embattled manufacturing facility cannot be used, the New York Times reports.

PLOS Papers on Frozen Shoulder GWAS, Epstein-Barr Effects on Immune Cell Epigenetics, More

In PLOS this week: genome-wide association study of frozen shoulder, epigenetic patterns of Epstein-Barr-infected B lymphocyte cells, and more.