Genetic Signatures that Distinguish Cancer and Non-cancer Patients

A group of researchers led by scientists from the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech have developed a new technology that detects distinct genetic changes differentiating cancer patients from healthy individuals [1]. The technology is described in a recent study published in the journal Genes, Chromosomes and Cancer and may one day serve as the basis for a cancer predisposition test.

President Obama Resists Cuts to Biomedical Research Funding

In President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last month, he argued that government support for research and development to fund innovation is a necessary and critical investment that must be made, even in the face of a rising national debt. A coalition of biomedical researchers support his vision on science. The 2012 budget President Obama sent to Congress earlier this month seeks an increase in funding for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and in basic science at other agencies, while making cuts and freezes in many other areas of government.

Obama and biomedical research funding

Detection of Colorectal Cancer Using a Blood-based, Six-Gene Biomarker Set

At the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) last month, researchers from GeneNews Corp. reported that the probability of colorectal cancer (CRC) in asymptomatic patients can be accurately stratified by RNA expression profiling of six genes in whole blood [1]. The company focuses on developing blood-based biomarker tests for the early detection of diseases and personalized health management.

Treating Cancer with Personalized Medicine

A Michigan oncologist recently devised a simple experiment to help treat seven patients with advanced, incurable cancer. The experiment used DNA microarray technology to analyze each patient’s tumors for the expression of genes associated with positive response to anti-cancer drugs. The oncologist, Dr. Eric Lester, M.D., then based his drug treatment plans on the results. Four of seven patients are reported to have had a better outcome than expected [1].

microarrayAlthough every cell in the body contains identical genetic material, the same genes are not active in every cell. Tumor cells are no exception. Cancer refers to any one of a large number of diseases characterized by abnormal cell growth and proliferation. Few of these diseases can be treated in the same way, since the genes responsible for a variety of biological processes — DNA duplication, cellular proliferation, cell death — are different from one tumor to the next.