Sunday, July 03, 2011

Cancer Research Blog Carnival #47

Welcome to the Cancer Research Blog Carnival #47! Between Canada Day and other obligations, we're a bit late this time, so let's get right to it.

First up is a post from the 23andMe blog, The Spittoon, about ethnicity and prostate cancer.
Consider this: rates of prostate cancer in African American men are 1.5 to 3 times higher than for men with non-African ancestry, and African Americans have a two-fold higher mortality rate from the disease compared to European Americans. Non-genetic factors surely play a role in these differences, and chances are that genetic factors contribute, too. But nearly all of the genetic research in prostate cancer has been in populations of European descent. Our knowledge of prostate cancer genetics in African ancestry individuals specifically — a group especially affected by the disease — is progressing much too slowly.
The post discusses recent research from PLoS and Nature Genetics discussing genetic variants associated with prostate cancer risk. ERV also talks about prostate cancer and using vaccines (with everybody's favourite VSV) to eliminate existing tumours.
They took tissue from a normal human prostate, and generated cDNA (you just want DNA versions of all the RNA the cells is making-- not every cell is making all the same RNA/proteins). They then put that cDNA into Vesicular stomatitis viruses (VSV)-- Every VSV had a different cDNA artificially inserted into its genome. So, when that virus goes on to infect a cell, it will make all the VSV proteins and it will make the little bit of normal prostate protein due to the cDNA in the viral DNA. The prostate proteins will then be presented in the infected cells MHC I molecules-- 'normal' in an inappropriate context can generate an immune response... sooo... youre basically vaccinating against 'prostate'.
Of course treating cancer in mice is different from humans, and ERV advises tempering expectations.

Over at, Alexey continues a series of posts on trends in cancer stem cells.
But what are niches for cancer stem cells? We still have very little understanding of how tumor-initiating cells communicate with their environment. [...] I’ve summarized our current knowledge and added some interesting recent findings on this subject.
Alexey also asks, at, whether the teratoma assay is still the gold standard to assess pluripotency in stem cells.

Finally, Health and Life had a couple of posts up about new cancer drug advances. The first reports on recent research identifying a potential new drug target in breast cancer. The second describes a drug that targets a genetic mutation in 50% of melanoma patients, and has been shown to increase survival rates.

That's it for this month's Cancer Research Blog Carnival. For older editions, visit the Carnival Homepage. Don't forget, the CRBC 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. For a broader collection of science-related blog carnivals, sign up for the Science, Medicine, Environment and Nature Blog Carnival Twitter Feed.