Friday, March 06, 2009

Cancer Carnival #19

Welcome to the 19th edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival! I'll just dive right in and get to the posts.

Our first submission comes from Neurixir who reminds us that cancer cell lines aren't always what they seem:
[S]uppose research group X discovers something about colon cancer cells, specifically colon cancer cell line Y. They write up a paper with their data results and try to submit to Journal A. Journal A demands them to prove that the cells they’ve been working on are actually Y, and not some other colon cancer cell line expressing totally different morphology/proteins/receptors etc. To prove that Y is Y, research group X would need to get the DNA of their putative Y and verify that it matches the canonic DNA for the Y cell line.
OK, that's all straightforward, but Neurixir tells us that more and more journals are asking for DNA fingerprints. The reason? A growing number of cases where the cell lines used weren't actually the cell type claimed. Some of these cases are outlined, such as once-popular breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-435 turning out to be a melanoma, so head over there for the full scoop.

While on the topic of DNA, Erin Cline from the Spittoon - the 23andMe blog - sends us some information about two SNPs linked to thyroid cancer, published in Nature Genetics.
In a combined analysis that compared more than 960 subjects with thyroid cancer from Iceland, Spain and the United States to more than 38,000 controls, Julius Gudmundsson and colleagues found that each A at SNP rs965513 increased the odds of the disease by 1.75 times. Each C at rs944289 increased the odds of thyroid cancer by 1.37 times.
For now, the SNPs discussed won't be included in 23andMe's standard offering - at least until more studies confirm that result.

Ward Plunet takes a look at some issues of nutrition and cancer. Specifically, he reviews a paper examining the effects of a high fat diet on cancer progression.
A new paper by Le et. al., 2009 in BMC Cancer examined this question by testing animals that had tumors implanted in them on either a high fat diet (34.9% : mouse D12492 diet which equates to 60% fat in caloric terms - according to the company documentation) and a normal chow diet (4.25 % fat: 7001 diet, which equates to approximately 12% of their caloric intake - according to the company data sheet - which is the normal amount of fat typically fed a lab mouse). They then used a fairly new technique (which I discussed briefly about in my recent talk at BIL 2009) which allows the detected of metastasizing cancer cells in the blood stream.
Does a high fat diet increase metastasis? Click the link to find out the results, as well as some of the limitations of the study.

Next up, Bioblog has a post discussing ER+ and ER- breast cancer and the different treatments for each type.
[W]hile hormone-negative breast cancer is clearly responsive to first-generation chemotherapy - that is, something similar to the long-time standard for breast cancer, cyclophosphamide + methotrexate + fluorouracil (CMF) - hormone-positive cancer is not at all clearly so. In hormone-responsive cancer patients, when CMF treatment is compared to ovarian suppression, overall 10-year survival rates are similar. A recent study shows this even for women at higher risk for recurrence, i.e. with large tumor size and/or positive lymph nodes (Ejlertsen et al., 2006).
The author goes on to compare cytotoxic therapy to hormone interventions (such as tamoxifen), though I'm not sure about the bias towards cytotoxic chemotherapy the author complains about.

Finally, GrrlScientist takes us on a tour of BRITE (Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise) in North Carolina. She writes
Have you ever been in a pharmaceutical research facility? This is my photoessay documenting one of the many interesting field trips I went on while speaking at Science Online 09 in North Carolina. This photoessay is about my visit to North Carolina Central University's Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) facilities at North Carolina's famous Research Triangle, where their main focus is discovering new cancer pharmaceuticals.
We also received one non-English submission, from what appears to be an Indonesian blog. If you're Indonesian and want to learn about breast cancer and its treatment head over there, though I don't speak the language and can't comment on the content.

One topic I was surprised to not see among the submissions was the cancer risk of stem cell therapy following the case of the boy whose stem cell therapy developed into cancer. This was a potential concern I had previously raised about stem cell therapy. It's absence among submissions wasn't for lack of writing on the subject though. See Wired Science, Pure Pedantry and especially Hematopoiesis for the story and analysis.

That concludes the 19th edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival. We're always looking for new hosts, so send us an email to sign up! The next edition is due to appear Friday, April 3rd so submit your posts here. Visit the Carnival Homepage for previous editions.

And don't forget, the Cancer Research Blog Carnival now has subscription options; you can follow by email or RSS feed. An aggregated feed of credible, rotating health and medicine blog carnivals is also available.