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Other highlights in the April 5 JNCI

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Gene Expression Data May Shed Light on Melanoma Development

A new study has identified 254 gene sequences whose expression in people with melanoma may be associated with developing metastasis.

The underlying molecular mechanisms involved in the clinical progression of melanoma are not well known. Alain Spatz, M.D., of the Gustave-Roussy Institute in Villejuif Cedex, France, and colleagues examined gene expression in melanomas from 58 patients who had been followed for at least 4 years. The authors identified 254 gene sequences whose expression was associated with risk of metastasis in melanomas, 174 of which are from known genes. Of the genes identified, the authors noted 33 genes whose expression was higher in patients whose melanomas did not metastasize within 4 years. They suggest that these genes could play a role in inhibiting metastasis.

The authors write, "These genes may shed light on the molecular mechanisms underlying poor prognosis in melanoma patients."

Contact: Chloe Louys, 33-14211-5059,

Retinol Levels Associated with Risk Of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

High blood plasma levels of retinol, the dietary form of vitamin A, were associated with a decreased risk of a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in a male Chinese population, a new study reports. Men infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) with low levels of retinol in their blood plasma were at greatest risk of HCC.

Jian-Min Yuan, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and colleagues examined the association between the risk of developing HCC and levels of vitamin A derivatives called retinoids in blood samples taken before a cancer diagnosis was made. They compared prediagnostic samples from 213 men with HCC with those from 1087 control men, all of whom were participants in the 18,244 person Shanghai Cohort Study.

The authors found that a high concentration of retinol in prediagnostic blood plasma samples was associated with a reduced risk of developing HCC. Men infected with HBV who had low blood plasma levels of retinol had a greater than 70-fold higher risk of developing HCC than HBV-negative men with the highest retinol concentrations.

Contact: Jian-Min Yuan, M.D., Ph.D., 612-625-8056,

Grb7 Peptide Inhibitor Targets Pancreatic Cancer Cells, Study Reports

A molecule called the Grb7 peptide inhibitor may work as a targeted therapy for metastatic pancreatic cancer, a new study reports. The Grb7 peptide inhibitor counters the expression of the Grb7 protein, a protein that is overexpressed in metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Shinji Tanaka, M.D., Ph.D., of Tokyo Medical and Dental University in Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues studied Grb7 protein expression in pancreatic tumors and the activity of the Grb7 peptide inhibitor against the Grb7 protein in pancreatic cancer cells and tumors.

They found that 61% of pancreatic cancers had higher levels of Grb7 protein than the surrounding tissue. The Grb7 peptide inhibitor blocked the activity of the Grb7 protein in pancreatic cancer cells and inhibited cell migration and metastasis of pancreatic tumors in a mouse model. The authors suggest that Grb7 peptide inhibitors may be useful in the future as a targeted therapy.

Contact: Tokyo Medical and Dental University Communications Office, 81-3-5803-5011

Also in the April 5 JNCI:


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