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Recent Publications by VICC Researchers

June 2, 2016

Study identifies new culprit in lung cancer development

A microRNA—a small piece of RNA involved in regulating gene expression—functions as an oncogene to drive the development of lung cancer, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center investigators have discovered. The microRNA, known as miR-31, is expressed at high levels in human lung adenocarcinoma, and its expression correlates with reduced patient survival, said Christine Eischen, Ph.D., professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. The findings were reported Jan. 4, 2016 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.


New DNA repair enzyme discovered in soil-dwelling bacterium

Vanderbilt researchers have discovered in a soil-dwelling bacterium a new class of DNA repair enzyme that could lead to better ways to treat cancer. Brandt Eichman, Ph.D., and colleagues demonstrated that the enzyme AlkD uses a different mechanism to repair DNA than other enzymes and, as a result, repairs different types of DNA damage. The research was reported in the Nov. 12, 2015, issue of Nature.


Prostate cancer survivors’ risk of heart disease studied

The 3 million prostate cancer survivors in the United States are likely to die from something other than cancer and should be more concerned about heart disease, according to a paper published Feb. 2, 2016 in Circulation. VICC’s cardio-oncology program is focused on modulating the heart disease risk for prostate cancer patients, especially those receiving androgen-deprivation therapy, as well as patients with other types of cancers. The VICC investigators included David F. Penson, M.D., MPH, Alicia K. Morgans, M.D., MPH, and Javid Moslehi, M.D.


Study identifies potential colon cancer biomarker

A protein that suppresses a key cancer pathway in the colon may be a potential biomarker for colitis-associated tumors, VICC researchers reported Jan. 14, 2016, in Gut. That protein, called blood vessel epicardial substance or BVES, also may be a new therapeutic target for cancers in the colon and elsewhere, Christopher S. Williams, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues concluded.


Overcoming lung cancer drug resistance

Katherine Amato, Ph.D., Jin Chen, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues have identified a signaling protein that is overexpressed when lung cancer cells become resistant to treatment with EGFR-specific tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). The drug-resistant cells were remarkably sensitive to EPHA2 blockage by a small molecule inhibitor, which decreased viability of cells with acquired resistance to third generation TKI. The research, reported Jan 7, 2016, in Cancer Research, suggests a potential method to overcome EGFR TKI resistance.


Biomarkers sought for melanoma response to immunotherapy

VICC researchers have determined which type of melanoma tumor expression is associated with response to anti-PD-1 therapy—a treatment that stimulates the immune system to attack tumors. Up to 40 percent of melanoma patients respond to this treatment. Justin Balko, Pharm.D., Ph.D., Douglas Johnson, M.D., and colleagues compared cell lines of tumor expressions of MHC-I and MHC-II. The MHC-II expression on tumor cells was associated with therapeutic response and overall survival. The findings were published Jan. 19, 2016, in Nature Communications.


New role identified for gene

VICC investigators have defined the role of the p73 gene—a family member of another gene whose absence or silence contributes to cancer formation. Using a p73-deficient mouse model developed in the laboratory of Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., investigators led by Clayton Marshall found that p73 regulates at least 100 genes linked to the generation of cilia—hair-like projections on cells whose coordinated movement pushes molecules and fluid in various organs of the body. In a cover story for the March 15, 2016, Cell Reports, the team reported that the mice developed inflammatory and infectious illnesses caused by the loss of cilia.


Cancer Prevention and Poverty

Interested in how cancer prevention recommendations play out in low-income populations, epidemiologist Shaneda Warren Anderson, Ph.D., and colleagues analyzed data from 61,098 adults, with overrepresentation of low-income whites and African-Americans. The team measured adherence to American Cancer Society (ACS) recommendations regarding body mass index, physical activity, diet, alcohol intake and smoking status, and they gathered other clinical data and demographic data. During a median follow-up period of six years, there were 2,240 cancers diagnosed in the group. As reported March 10 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, adherence to the ACS guideline to stay away from tobacco was strongly associated with lower cancer risk. Also, in individuals without chronic disease at baseline, a score that summarized adherence to guidelines for nutrition and physical activity was significantly associated with reduced cancer risk.


Chemo better option following pancreatic cancer surgery

A multicenter study led by Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) investigators found that pancreatic cancer patients who underwent surgery and received chemotherapy lived longer and had fewer cancer recurrences in other parts of the body than patients who also received chemoradiation therapy. The study led by Alexander Parikh, M.D., MPH, associate professor of Surgery and director of the Vanderbilt Pancreas Center, was published online Feb. 16 in advance of print publication in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.