The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Friday Science Review: April 20, 2012

This week’s Friday science review covers a Nature paper from a large international collaboration – 19 affiliated institutes no less – with the lead author from the University of British Columbia/British Columbia Cancer Research Centre. They present results from the study of somatic mutations in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients.

TNBCs are a subset of breast cancers (~16%) that do not express the estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor or HER2; cannot be treated with endocrine therapy or the HER2-targeting Herceptin (trastuzumab); and are associated with relatively poor outcomes. They show that at the time of diagnosis for 104 TNBC cases the tumours exhibited a wide and continuous range of genomic evolution spanning from a few somatic alterations to hundreds of somatic genomic aberrations. Looking deeper in to the clonal variation within an individual tumour they found significant differences, which meant that at diagnosis the TNBCs already displayed a widely varying clonal evolution. As expected, known drivers such as p53, PIK3CA and PTEN were amongst the highest clonal frequencies, indicating that they were early events in the clonal evolution, however, this was not always the case and in some cancers another unidentified driver of early clonal expansion must have been present.

Ultimately this work adds to the growing sense that to really understand the mechanics driving tumour growth and to predict therapeutic responses will require looking into the individual tumour clonal genotypes.

Other publications:

  • Gastrointestinal-sparing effects of novel NSAIDs in rats with compromised mucosal defence. PLoS One. McMaster University
  • Aberrant Localization of FUS and TDP43 Is Associated with Misfolding of SOD1 in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. PLoS One. University of British Columbia
  • TOR Is Required for the Retrograde Regulation of Synaptic Homeostasis at the Drosophila Neuromuscular Junction. Neuron. McGill University
  • Engagement of β-arrestin by transactivated insulin-like growth factor receptor is needed for V2 vasopressin receptor-stimulated ERK1/2 activation. PNAS. Université de Montréal
  • Road crash fatalities on US income tax days. JAMA. University of Toronto

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