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Archive - Jun 27, 2017

Study Sheds Light on How Ovarian Cancer Spreads

With 20,000 diagnoses each year, ovarian cancer is the ninth most common cancer and fifth leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States. So many women die from ovarian cancer because it often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen, by which point it is difficult to treat and usually fatal. A team of researchers from the University of California, Riverside, and the University of Notre Dame are studying the molecular mechanisms by which ovarian cancer metastasizes to uncover new therapeutic opportunities. In their latest paper, published in the journal Oncogene, the scientists used live imaging and electron microscopy to study the cellular activities associated with successful metastasis, including the expression of a group of proteins called cadherins, which help cells bind together. Because these proteins enable cancer cells to anchor to new sites in the body, it may be possible to disrupt metastasis by blocking cadherin-mediated binding. The research was led by Mark Alber, PhD, a Distinguished Professor of Applied Mathematics at UC Riverside, and M. Sharon Stack, PhD, a Kleiderer-Pezold Professor of Biochemistry and Director of Notre Dame Harper Cancer Research Institute. As primary ovarian tumors metastasize, they shed both single cells and clusters of cells, called multicellular aggregates (MCAs), into the pelvis and abdomen. To study exactly how metastasis occurs, the researchers quantified the interactions between epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) cells and three-dimensional models of the abdomen wall. They showed that when EOC cells acquired N-cadherin (Ncad), an event that occurs in human EOC tumors, they could penetrate and attach to the abdomen wall.

Whole Genome Sequencing of Healthy Primary Care Patients Reveals That Significant Percentage Carry Rare Genetic Disease Risks; Results of MedSeq Project Published

Whole genome sequencing involves the analysis of all three billion pairs of letters in an individual's DNA and has been hailed as a technology that will usher in a new era of predicting and preventing disease. However, the use of genome sequencing in healthy individuals is controversial because no one fully understands how many patients carry variants that put them at risk for rare genetic conditions and how they, and their doctors, will respond to learning about these risks. In a new paper published online on June 26, 2017 in the Annals of Internal Medicine by investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, along with collaborators at Baylor College of Medicine, report the results of the 4-year, NIH-funded MedSeq Project, the first-ever randomized trial conducted to examine the impact of whole genome sequencing in healthy primary care patients. The article is titled β€œThe Impact of Whole-Genome Sequencing on the Primary Care and Outcomes of Healthy Adult Patients: A Pilot Randomized Trial.” In the MedSeq Project, 100 healthy individuals and their primary care physicians were enrolled and randomized so that half of the patients received whole genome sequencing and half did not. Nearly 5,000 genes associated with rare genetic conditions were expertly analyzed in each sequenced patient, and co-investigators from many different disciplines including clinical genetics, molecular genetics, primary care, ethics, and law were involved in analyzing the results. Researchers found that among the 50 healthy primary care patients who were randomized to receive genome sequencing, 11 (22 percent) carried genetic variants predicted to cause previously undiagnosed rare disease.