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Friday, February 04, 2000

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HMS Beagle Cancer's fingerprints
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"Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is not one disease, but many. Around 40% of patients respond to chemotherapy, and the rest usually succumb to the disease. The clinical differences are manifested in differing progression rates, host responses, and differentiation states of the tumors. Researchers have now used genetic screening to identify two distinct categories of the disease, each with unique gene expression profiles. One type expressed genes typical of germinal center B cells, the other had a profile similar to that seen during in vitro activation of peripheral blood B cells. Patients with a germinal centerlike disease had a significantly better prognosis than patients with cancers falling in the latter category. This work could lead to improved classification of cancers and implementation of more targeted therapy. ”

Reference: Alizadeh, A.A., Eisen, M.B., Davis, R.E. et al. 2000. Distinct types of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma identified by gene expression profile. Nature 403(6769):503-511.

Update: NIH News Release Scientists Discover Common Cancer is Two Distinct Diseases
"Louis Staudt, M.D., Ph.D., a scientist at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and a senior author on the paper, said this finding helps to explain why about 40 percent of patients with this type of [non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL)] can be cured with standard chemotherapy regimens, while other patients who seemingly have the same disease often relapse. "It's a case of mistaken identity," said Staudt. "The tumor cells might look very similar, but this study offers strong evidence that their molecular engines work very differently. ”

"We arrayed on a specialized glass-slide chip more than 15,000 of these unique genes with about 3,000 other genes that are involved in various cancers or in the immune system," said Ash Alizadeh, a scientist at Stanford University School of Medicine and one of the lead authors on the study. "This customized microarray, which is slightly larger than a penny and contains over 18,000 genes in all, is known as a 'Lymphochip.'" The principal members of the Stanford laboratory team are Brown, Alizadeh, Michael Eisen, Ph.D. (a lead author), and David Botstein, Ph.D. ”

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Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.


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