Cancer Research

Cells have the remarkable ability to keep track of their genetic contents and -- when things go wrong – to step in and repair the damage before cancer or another life-threatening condition develops.

But precisely how cells monitor the integrity of their genomes, identify problems, and intervene to repair broken or miscoded DNA has been one of nature's closely held secrets. Now, however, a report in the journal Science describes a new database developed by a team of researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Harvard Medical School that is providing the first detailed portrait of the army of more than 700 proteins that helps maintain DNA’s integrity.

I’ve recently decided to deepen my knowledge on the field of personalized genetics/genomics as it has an exceptional future in the realm of medicine (and business). And who is the right person to answer my geek questions? Of course, Steven Murphy, MD, the blogger of the Gene Sherpa. He is the Clinical Genetics Fellow at Yale University and is also the founder of a Personalized Medicine practice.

Call it the cellular equivalent of big glasses, a funny nose and a fake mustache.

Bone marrow stem cells attracted to the site of a cancerous growth frequently take on the outward appearance of the malignant cells around them, University of Florida researchers report in a paper to be published in the August issue of Stem Cells.

A colon cancer researcher at the Ireland Cancer Center of University Hospitals Case Medical Center (UHCMC) has laid out the roadmap for how medical science should employ aspirin and new aspirin-like drugs for use in preventing colon cancer in certain high-risk individuals.

UCLA and Dartmouth scientists have identified a crucial enzyme in plant vitamin C synthesis, which could lead to enhanced crops. The discovery now makes clear the entire 10-step process by which plants convert glucose into vitamin C, an important antioxidant in nature.

"If we can find ways to enhance the activity of this enzyme, it may be possible to engineer plants to make more vitamin C and produce better crops," said Steven Clarke, UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry, director of UCLA's Molecular Biology Institute and co-author of the research study, to be published as a 'Paper of the Week' in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and currently available online.

Findings presented today at Digestive Disease Week® 2007 (DDW), from long-term extensions of the ACT trials (Active Ulcerative Colitis 1 & 2) show that subjects with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis (UC) who had responded to REMICADE® (infliximab) in the blinded phase of the trials maintained improvement in their clinical symptoms for up to two years.

New evidence indicates that small pieces of noncoding genetic material known as microRNAs (miRNAs) might influence cancer susceptibility. Differences in certain miRNAs may predispose some individuals to develop cancer, say researchers.

MiRNAs play a number of roles in biological regulation, including development and cell differentiation, helping to determine what type a cell ultimately becomes. But when damaged, they can contribute to cancer by either turning on cancer-causing genes or by inhibiting tumor-blocking genes. The ways that MiRNAs are expressed have been used to profile tumor types in humans.

Women who regularly enjoy an alcoholic drink or two have a significantly lower risk of having a non-fatal heart attack than women who are life-time abstainers, epidemiologists at the University at Buffalo have shown.

Moderation is the key, however. Women in the study who reported being intoxicated at least once a month were nearly three times more likely to suffer a heart attack than abstainers, results showed.

Two genes important for human development and implicated in cancer and schizophrenia also help keep a healthy balance between excitation and inhibition of brain cells, researchers say.

Neuregulin-1 and its receptor, ErbB4, promote inhibition at the site of inhibitory synapses in the brain by increasing release of GABA, a major inhibitory neurotransmitter, Medical College of Georgia researchers led by Dr. Lin Mei report in the May 24 issue of Neuron.

Scientists have identified yet another risk from a high-salt diet. High concentrations of salt in the stomach appear to induce gene activity in the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori, making it more virulent and increasing the likelihood of an infected person developing a severe gastric disease.

"Apparently the stomach pathogen H. pylori closely monitors the diets of those people whom it infects. Epidemiological evidence has long implied that there is a connection between H. pylori and the composition of the human diet. This is especially true for diets rich in salt," says Hanan Gancz, of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.