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Journal Watch

April 29, 2022

World Trade Center responders at higher risk for blood cancer-associated mutations

Scientists from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) collaborated with researchers from New York to determine that 9/11 first responders to the World Trade Center have increased levels of mutations that escalate their risk for blood cancers or cardiovascular disease, according to a study published March 7 in Nature Medicine. The researchers determined that a significantly higher percentage of World Trade Center responders have an increased mutational burden when compared to blood sample data from BioVU. Among the World Trade Center firefighters, 10% had evidence of clonal hematopoiesis compared to 6.7% for firefighters who were not exposed to particulate matter from the burning skyscrapers. The VICC researchers were led by Michael Savona, MD.

Eating nuts lowers risk of breast cancer recurrence

Eating nuts has been linked to reduced death from all causes in the general population, but the impact of nut consumption on long-term breast cancer survivors has not been studied. Using data from the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study, Xiao-Ou Shu, MD, PhD, and colleagues  found that women who reported regular nut consumption in a dietary assessment five years after diagnosis had higher overall and disease-free survival rates compared to women who reported no nut consumption. The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, finds about 50% reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence, metastasis or mortality among women who eat nuts regularly.

Cancer-Immu launched 

A new data portal called Cancer-Immu, established by a team of Vanderbilt biostatisticians, can help clinicians and researchers predict which patients will respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors. With data from 3,652 samples for 16 cancer types, it is the largest immune checkpoint blockade-related data portal for exploring immuno-genomic connections. The open-access portal was described Dec. 13, 2021, in Cancer Research. The research was led by Yu Shyr, PhD, Qi Liu, PhD, Jing Yang, PhD, and other biostatisticians.

Diet and colorectal cancer risk

Polyphenols — antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, teas and spices — have promising anti-cancer properties. Martha Shrubsole, PhD, and colleagues examined the association between dietary polyphenols and colorectal cancer among participants in the Southern Community Cohort Study, an ongoing study designed to look at the causes of cancer health disparities. Among 71,599 participants, the researchers found that higher dietary intake of total polyphenols was associated with reduced colorectal cancer risk. Median polyphenol intake was lower for Blacks compared to whites, which could contribute to the increased incidence of colorectal cancer among Blacks in the United States, the researchers noted in an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition report.

Clinical score can guide neuroendocrine tumor therapy

Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) with lutetium dotatate is a treatment for well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved in 2018, but clinicians have lacked a metric for predicting its benefit on an individual patient basis. Now, a clinical score system developed by Vanderbilt has been validated that can guide PRRT treatment decisions. Satya Das, MD, MSCI, and colleagues devised the clinical score system, which designates points according to organ involvement, types of prior treatment, symptoms and other factors. Data from a four-year study, published Jan. 19 in JAMA Network Open, indicate that the scoring system may be a valuable clinical tool.

Protein drives melanoma response

Although targeted therapies have been developed for patients with metastatic melanoma, tumor progression eventually results. Understanding characteristics of treatment resistance is important for prolonging therapy effectiveness. In a retrospective study of patients treated with BRAF and/or MEK inhibitors, Chi Yan, PhD, Ann Richmond, PhD, and colleagues discovered an association between tumor progression and an increase in melanoma cells bearing SOX10, a protein required for melanoma tumor growth. Reporting in the journal npj Precision Oncology, the researchers found a close physical association of SOX10+ melanoma cells with CD8+ T cells correlated with shorter progression-free survival of patients treated with BRAF/MEK inhibitors.