A genetic link between red hair, freckles and skin cancer

Los Angeles Times

Whether you call them gingers, the devil's spawn or just-plain sexy, be sure to call redheads out of the sun because along with their fiery tresses comes a powerful propensity to develop melanoma, a particularly deadly form of skin cancer. And now, scientists are beginning to uncover why redheads -- and probably the non-gingers who carry a genetic variant common to redheads -- may be so vulnerable: For those who carry an allele, or gene variant, associated with red hair and freckles, cancer-causing genetic mutations occur at a rate 42% greater than they do for people who don't carry that gene variant. As a result, the average carrier of at least one problematic variant of the melanocortin 1 receptor, or MC1R, gene tends to develop cancer-promoting mutations at roughly the same rate as a person 21 years her senior. And that's despite the known tendency of such people to avoid spending days in the sun, a factor known to initiate cellular changes leading to skin cancer. A high-priced prostate cancer drug discovered at UCLA is at the center of a multibillion-dollar takeover battle that has several giant pharmaceutical firms eyeing the purchase of San Francisco biotech firm Medivation.


Birth Control Pill Benefits: New Study Says Hormonal Contraception May Repair Lung Damage And Ease Influenza Symptoms

International Business Times

Birth control pills may give women protection from more than just pregnancy – it could potentially help regulate influenza symptoms and help repair damaged lungs more quickly. Researchers from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study on the female sex hormone progesterone, a hormone that's contained in most forms of birth control, in lab mice. During the trial, researchers found progesterone prevented some of the worst effects of influenza infections in mice, and it also sped up the rate in which damaged lungs heal by producing an increased amount of amphiregulin, a protein that helps defend the cells lining the lungs from severe effects of the flu. In their publication of the study, featured in PLOS Pathogens medical journal, the doctors claimed their research suggests sex hormones can be beneficial for more than just reproduction and said that progesterone could potentially become a viable solution for treating women infected with the flu. According to Sabra Klein, the study leader and associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg's molecular microbiology and immunology department, the next phase of the study is to examine how progesterone increases amphiregulin concentration.


Predicting non-small cell lung cancer prognosis by fully automated microscopic pathology image features : Nature Communications : Nature Research

#artificialintelligence

Patients with higher stages tended to have worse prognosis (log-rank test P value 0.001 in TCGA data set, log-rank test P 0.0068 in TMA data set). However, the survival outcomes varied widely. Tumour grade did not significantly correlate with survival (left: TCGA data set, log-rank test P value 0.06; right: TMA data set, log-rank test P value 0.0502). Image features predicted the survival outcomes. Elastic net-Cox proportional hazards model categorized patients into two prognostic groups, with a statistically significant difference in their survival outcomes in the TCGA test set (log-rank test P value 0.0023).


Lung Cancer Breakthrough? Chinese Scientists' Gene-Editing Technique CRISPR Approved For Testing

International Business Times

In an attempt to treat lung cancer, a group of Chinese scientists is set to be the first in the world to inject patients with immune cells modified with a specific gene-editing technique, according to an exclusive report by Nature. The technique, called CRISPR–Cas9 gene-editing, will be tested in a trial on patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer for whom chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other treatments have failed. The team at Sichuan University's West China Hospital in Chengdu plans to start the trials next month. The team plans to extract immune cells, called T cells, from the patients and then use the gene-editing technology to modify them in such a way that the engineered cells home in on the cancer when re-introduced to the patient. "Treatment options are very limited," said Lu You, an oncologist at Sichuan University's West China Hospital, to Nature.


Loss of Y chromosome linked to Alzheimer's disease: study

The Japan Times

MIAMI – About one in five men over age 80 lose the Y chromosome from their blood cells, and this condition has now been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, researchers said Monday. The condition known a loss of Y, or LOY, is the most common genetic mutation acquired during a man's lifetime. Previous research has shown LOY can raise the likelihood of cancer and is more frequently found in smokers. Now, researchers say the condition may serve as a predictive biomarker for a wider range of health problems. For the study in the American Journal of Human Genetics -- led by Lars Forsberg and Jan Dumanski of Uppsala University in Sweden, along with colleagues in Britain, France, the United States and Canada -- researchers examined cases of LOY in more than 3,200 men with an average age of 73.