Scientists Use Fruit Flies To Reveal Unknown Function Of A Transcriptional Regulator Of Development And Cancer
Historically, fly and human Polycomb proteins were considered textbook exemplars of transcriptional repressors, or proteins that silence the process by which DNA gives rise to new proteins. Now, work by a team of researchers at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research challenges that dogma. In a cover story in the May 2012 issue of the journal Molecular and Cellular Biology, Stowers Investigator Ali Shilatifard, Ph.D., and his team report that in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster a component of the Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2), which is called Jarid2, occasionally activates gene expression. Polycomb proteins, a group of chromatin-binding factors, were initially found to control how developing fly embryos undergo segmentation. Subsequently, researchers discovered that humans also express a gaggle of proteins resembling fly Polycomb factors and that these proteins have crucially significant roles: under normal conditions PRC2 proteins are required for the differentiation of stem cells, but when overactive, act as oncogenes in lymphoma, breast, and prostate cancer.
Breast cancer is at least 10 different diseases, each with its own genetic signature and pattern of weak spots, according to a new landmark study that promises to revolutionize diagnosis and prognosis, and pave the way for individualized, tailored treatment. The study group, METABRIC (Molecular Taxonomy of Breast Cancer International Consortium), reports its findings in the 18 April online issue of Nature. The Cancer Research UK-funded study is the largest global gene study of breast cancer tissue ever conducted, involving a large team of researchers, primarily in the UK and Canada. Led by Professor Carlos Caldas from Cancer Research UK's Cambridge Research Institute and Professor Sam Aparicio from the British Columbia Cancer Centre in Canada, the team uncovered crucial new information about breast cancer.
A recent issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, reports that men who care for a wife with breast cancer suffer a measurable negative impact on their health up to years after their wife's cancer has been diagnosed and treatment has been completed. According to the study, men who reported the highest levels of stress, due to their wives' illness, had the highest risk for physical symptoms and weaker immune responses. The researchers decided to determine the health effects of a recurrence of breast cancer on patients' male caregivers and discovered that the level of stress the men suffered, with regard to their wives' cancer, had a greater impact on their health than the current status of their wives' disease. Leading researcher, Dr. Sharla Wells-Di Gregorio, who is assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University, states that the findings suggest that clinicians who care for breast cancer patients should also take their caregiver's health into account, for instance, by screening caregivers for stress symptoms and encouraging participation in stress management, relaxation of other self-care activities.
Cancer care is increasingly complex, and as many as one in five cancer patients may experience "breakdowns" in their care, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Such breakdowns include communication problems between patients and their care providers, as well as more traditional medical errors; both types of problems can create significant harms. In the study, communication problems outnumbered problems with medical care. Kathleen Mazor, EdD, Assistant Director of the Meyers Primary Care Institute, in Worcester, MA, led the study, with researchers from the University of Washington, Group Health, and Kaiser Permanente. Their study was a project of the Cancer Research Network's Cancer Communication Research Center. They found that problematic events led to varied consequences, such as additional medical care, delayed recovery, emotional distress, and persistent damage to the relationship between patients and their doctors.
The most commonly diagnosed cancer amongst women is breast cancer. There are various types of breast cancers, for instance, HER2-positive cancer in which the tumor's cells produce excess quantities of HER2, a particular protein called the human epidermal growth factor, whilst those with normal production are called HER2-negative. According to a systematic review in The Cochrane Library, women with HER2-positive breast cancer have a substantially higher chance of prolonging life and reducing the risk of cancer recurrence after completion of therapy if they add trastuzumab ( Herceptin ) to their standard treatment. Trastuzumab is a new-generation antibody based medicine that inhibits the receptor and stops it from initiating excessive cell growth, which causes tumors. About one-fifth of women with early breast cancer have HER2-positive tumors, which are linked to a worse outlook than HER2-negative tumors if left untreated.