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Journal Watch

November 30, 2023

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Clue to gastric cancer discovered

Fibroblast cells play key roles in the repair of damaged tissue and in pathological scarring. James Goldenring, MD, PhD, and colleagues have uncovered evidence of their direct involvement in the development of gastric cancer. The findings, published May 15 in the journal Gastroenterology, could lead to novel interventions to prevent cancer of the stomach, one of the top causes of cancer deaths worldwide.

First steps to cancer revealed  

As cells grow and divide, their DNA needs to be accurately replicated and properly segregated to new cells. Errors during replication or segregation can alter the genome and promote cancer. Frank Mason, PhD, and Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, have identified the mechanism by which the enzyme and tumor suppressor SETD2 prevents the propagation of these errors, and thus safeguards the integrity of the genome. Their discovery, reported Sept. 18 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides a remarkably detailed view of the earliest events leading to the development of cancer and of potential new ways to prevent it.

New genetic susceptibilities found for colon cancer

Xingyi Guo, PhD, and colleagues have found new genes that put people at higher risk for colorectal cancer. They conducted a large transcriptome-wide association study (TWAS), along with an alternative approach called splicing-TWAS, to strengthen gene discovery. They discovered oncogenic roles for two previously unreported genes, TRPSI and METRNL, and they confirmed cancer susceptibility with another recently reported gene, C14orfl66. The findings were published online Aug. 23 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

T cell exhaustion occurs within hours of tumor exposure

Immune system T cells that should be able to kill cancer cells become dysfunctional or “exhausted” within hours of encountering a tumor, according to a study reported Aug. 3 in Nature Immunology. The surprising findings by Mary Philip, MD, PhD, and colleagues have implications for cancer immunotherapies that aim to harness the tumor-killing power of T cells, and they challenge existing ideas about how T cells become exhausted. 

New treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer prolongs survival

A new therapy is on the horizon for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who have run out of treatment options. Results from an international clinical trial, published June 15 in The Lancet, show that the selective targeted therapy, fruquintinib, resulted in a statistically significant improvement in overall survival and progression-free survival. Cathy Eng, MD, led the international trial as co-principal investigator. She is also the lead senior author of the study.

Medicare could save big with better prices

The U.S. government could save taxpayers $228 million-$2.15 billion a year if insurers who operate its Medicare Part D plans purchased seven generic oncology drugs at the same prices obtained by the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company (MCCPDC), according to a study published June 8 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study, led by Ruchika Talwar, MD, estimated potential savings by switching to MCCPDC prices with the implication that Medicare Part D plan sponsors and beneficiaries are likely overpaying for these self-administered generic oncology drugs.

Immunotherapy complications more prevalent among melanoma survivors

Chronic immunotherapy-related complications are more prevalent and persistent than previously shown among melanoma survivors, according to new research published Aug. 3 in JAMA Network Open. Almost one-third (29.2%) of patients treated with either pembrolizumab or nivolumab experienced prolonged complications from the immunotherapies. The researchers analyzed data from 318 melanoma patients from six medical centers in the United States and Australia who received at least 18 months of follow-up care. The findings from this cohort study suggest clinicians should provide prolonged monitoring of patients after treatment with anti-PD-1 therapy and consider risk-benefit analysis before treatment. 

Pyrvinium validated as treatment to prevent stomach cancer 

A study published Oct. 4 in Gastroenterology further validates that pyrvinium, a drug that has been used for decades for intestinal pinworms, can be repurposed as a preventive treatment for stomach cancer. Eunyoung Choi, PhD, assistant professor of Surgery, and colleagues have demonstrated in human organoids and mouse models that the drug induces cell death in precancerous lesions.