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Take Two Aspirin and Call…

Colorectal cancer patients with a certain mutation who took aspirin regularly had longer survival than patients without the mutation, reports a recent New England Journal of Medicine paper.

Researchers led by Shuji Ogino at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School drew on two nationwide studies to determine how aspirin use affected survival in patients with mutated PIK3CA colorectal cancer, and found that 97 percent of patients with mutated-PIK3CA tumors who took aspirin were still alive after five years as compared to 74 percent of patients with the mutation who did not take aspirin.

"This study suggests that regular use of aspirin after the diagnosis of colorectal cancer is significantly associated with increased survival among patients with mutated-PIK3CA tumors but not among patients with wild-type PIK3CA tumors. This relationship appeared to be independent of aspirin use before diagnosis," Ogino and colleagues write. "PIK3CA mutation may serve as a tumor biomarker that predicts the response to the initiation of aspirin therapy in patients with newly diagnosed colorectal cancer."

At the NIH Director's Blog, Francis Collins notes that this indicates a possible personalized medicine role for aspirin. "If these results are replicated, doctors might use the presence of the PIK3CA mutation in colon cancer tissue as a screening tool or biomarker to identify patients who would benefit from aspirin in addition to surgery or other therapies," Collins writes.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.