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This Week in NEJM: Feb 17, 2011

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In NEJM this week, an international team of researchers publish their findings on the effect of NFKBIA deletion in glioblastomas. The researchers speculate that deletion of NFKBIA, which inhibits the epidermal growth factor receptor oncogene signaling pathway, would promote tumorigenesis in glioblastomas that don't have EGFR alterations. The team analyzed 790 glioblastomas for changes in both NFKBIA and EGFR, and found that "deletion of NFKBIA and amplification of EGFR show a pattern of mutual exclusivity." Furthermore, the team adds, "restoration of the expression of NFKBIA attenuated the malignant phenotype and increased the vulnerability to chemotherapy of cells cultured from tumors with NFKBIA deletion." Deletion of NFKBIA is associated with short survival rates for glioblastoma, they say.

Also in NEJM this week, clinicians at Massachusetts General Hospital report on the case of a 65-year-old man who presented with hematuria after treatment for prostate cancer. The patient, whose case was discussed at the Genitourinary Oncology Conference, had a localized, small-volume prostate cancer, and underwent brachytherapy. Hematuria developed 10 years later, and the patient was diagnosed with adinocarcinoma. This case presents several issues, says Donald Kaufman, one of the clinicians on the case, "First, what were the options for treatment of the prostate cancer? Second, what is the origin of the new cancer — is it recurrent prostate cancer or a new adenocarcinoma of the bladder, urethra, or colon? If it is a new cancer, is it radiation-induced? And finally, what is the appropriate management of the current cancer?"

And published online in NEJM this week, three FDA members present their perspective on the development of novel combination-drug therapies. Successful development of combination therapies is important for treating multiple diseases, including cancer, they write. Concern has been expressed that FDA regulations, such as the ones concerning fixed-dose combinations, could inhibit that innovation, but the FDA has drafted guidance about testing more than one novel agent in a single program in order to address those concerns, they add. Drugmakers also have to do their part, the regulators say, to innovate and work alongside the FDA to develop these therapies.

The Scan

And Back

The New York Times reports that missing SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences are back in a different database.

Lacks Family Hires Attorney

A lawyer for the family of Henrietta Lacks plans to seek compensation from pharmaceutical companies that have used her cancer cells in product development, the Baltimore Sun reports.

For the Unknown

The Associated Press reports that family members are calling on the US military to use new DNA analysis techniques to identify unknown sailors and Marines who were on the USS Arizona.

PLOS Papers on Congenital Heart Disease, COVID-19 Infection Host MicroRNAs, Multiple Malformation Mutations

In PLOS this week: new genes linked to congenital heart disease, microRNAs with altered expression in COVID-19, and more.