Cancer Research

A fundamental genetic mechanism that shuts down an important gene in healthy immune system cells has been discovered that could one day lead to new therapies against infections, leukemia and other cancers. Results of a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study on the mechanism, called a somatic stop-codon mutation, are being reported today in the online journal PLoS ONE.

A new vaccine aimed at preventing cervical cancer is nearly 100 percent effective against the two types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. Results of a nationwide study of the vaccine will be published in the May 9 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.




Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in women worldwide, resulting in nearly half a million diagnoses and 240,000 deaths each year. Every day in the United States ten women die from cervical cancer, according to Kevin Ault MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Emory University School of Medicine, and one of the study authors.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have conclusive evidence that human papillomavirus (HPV) causes some throat cancers in both men and women. Reporting in the May 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers found that oral HPV infection is the strongest risk factor for the disease, regardless of tobacco and alcohol use, and having multiple oral sex partners tops the list of sex practices that boost risk for the HPV-linked cancer.

Temple University School of Medicine researchers have developed a new biosensor that sniffs out explosives and could one day be used to detect landmines and deadly agents, such as sarin gas.

To create the biosensor, Danny Dhanasekaran and colleagues genetically engineered a yeast strain with mammalian (rat) olfactory signaling machinery and genetically linked it to the expression of green fluorescent protein. Into these yeast cells, they cloned individual rat olfactory receptors. When the olfactory receptor "smells" the odor of DNT, an ingredient in the explosive TNT, the biosensor turns fluorescent green. The research team is the first to identify, clone and sequence this novel olfactory receptor.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine have developed new technology which, combined with proteomics – the large-scale study of the structure and function of proteins and their functions – has allowed them to map an extensive network of the signaling proteins that control cell movement.

Their work, providing the first comprehensive profile of cell movement, could lead to a better understanding of cell migration in cancer metastasis and inflammatory disease.

Confocal photomicrograph of a migrating cell expressing a green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged, acting binding protein that localizes to the leading front of the cell (right side).


The likelihood of developing bipolar disorder depends in part on the combined, small effects of variations in many different genes in the brain, none of which is powerful enough to cause the disease by itself, a new study shows.

However, targeting the enzyme produced by one of these genes could lead to development of new, more effective medications. The research was conducted by scientists at the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), with others from the Universities of Heidelberg and Bonn and a number of U.S. facilities collaborating in a major project called the NIMH Genetics Initiative.

The study is the first to scan virtually all of the variations in human genes to find those associated with bipolar disorder.

The drug trastuzumab (Herceptin) is used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer (a type of breast cancer that overexpresses the HER2 gene and accounts for about 25% of all breast cancers). Trastuzumab therapy improves the chances of survival; however, it has deleterious side effects and is expensive. Thus, it is important to accurately determine the patient’s HER2 status.

The challenge is to develop a testing strategy that is both accurate and economical. A false-negative test result can mean a woman will not receive a life-prolonging drug, and a false-positive result can lead to unnecessary, expensive drug treatment.

Diabetes researchers, investigating how the body supplies itself with insulin, discovered to their surprise that adult stem cells, which they expected to play a crucial role in the process, were nowhere to be found. Many researchers had proposed that adult stem cells develop into insulin-producing cells, called beta cells, in the pancreas.

Instead, the beta cells themselves divide, although slowly, to replenish their own population.

In animal tissue, insulin-producing beta cells glow red and green with dyes that indicate mulitple rounds of cell division. Credit: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia


One simple blood test could predict relapse or survival for children and young adults with acute leukemias, researchers from the Children's Cancer Hospital at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center reported at the American Society of Pediatric Hematology Oncology's annual meeting Saturday, May 5.

A review of young leukemia patients over the past decade has shown that the absolute lymphocyte count (ALC), a measure of normal immune cells found on every complete blood count report, is a powerful predictor of survival for young patients with leukemia.

Hamilton College researchers have identified molecules that have been shown to be effective in the fight against breast cancer.

The Hamilton researchers used state-of-the-art computational techniques in a novel way to design molecules that they predicted would be effective lead compounds for breast cancer research. Scientists from the Albany Medical College subsequently synthesized the predicted molecules and showed that they were indeed potential anti-breast cancer compounds in animal systems.