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This Week in the Medical Journals: May 25, 2012

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In Lancet Oncology this week, researchers in Belgium and Switzerland report on the use of VEGF pathway variants as biomarkers for outcome of treatment with bevacizumab. The team analyzed DNA from patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma who were randomly assigned to receive gemcitabine and erlotinib plus either bevacizumab or placebo; as well as patients with metastatic renal-cell carcinoma, who were randomly assigned to receive interferon alfa-2a with either bevacizumab or placebo. In the pancreatic cancer patients, the rs9582036 SNP in VEGF receptor 1 was significantly associated with overall survival and progression-free survival in the bevacizumab group, the team found. "Fine-mapping experiments of this locus identified rs7993418, a synonymous SNP affecting tyrosine 1213 in the VEGFR1 tyrosine-kinase domain, as the functional variant underlying the association," the team writes. "This SNP causes a shift in codon usage, leading to increased VEGFR1 expression and downstream VEGFR1 signaling." The findings were confirmed in the group of metastatic renal-cell carcinoma patients.

Also in Lancet Oncology this week, researchers in Japan report on the efficacy of thoracic radiotherapy with or without carboplatin therapy for elderly non-small-cell lung cancer patients. The team randomly assigned 200 patients older than 70 years with unresectable stage III lung cancer to receive radiotherapy either with or without low-dose carboplatin, and found that the combination treatment was associated with higher overall survival, and more toxic effects. "For a select group of elderly patients with locally advanced NSCLC, combination chemoradiotherapy provides a clinically significant benefit over radiotherapy alone, and should be considered for this population," the authors add.

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