Environmental toxin biomarkers

What impact do environmental contaminants have on human health? Until recently, it was difficult to adequately address this complex question. From animal models and cell and tissue culture studies, it has been clear for quite some time that contaminants ranging from heavy metals to organic chemicals like BPA, PCBs and dioxins can be extremely detrimental… Read article →


Cancer in the lungs? The blood will tell – miRNA in non-small cell lung cancer

In a previous post, we discussed how small non-coding RNAs could be identified to serve as circulating biomarkers in lung cancer. Now, a new study from Ma et al. defines a promising microRNA signature in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The signature can distinguish non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) with 72.62% sensitivity and 82.61% specificity, and squamous… Read article →


Tumor-derived exosomes

Tumor cells utilize multiple signaling mechanisms to modify surrounding tissue and create a favorable environment for growth and metastasis. Direct cell–cell communication is mediated by gap junctions, which are specialized channels that allow the transfer of ions and small molecules between adjacent cells. Paracrine signaling molecules, such as TGF-beta and fibroblast growth factor, act over a… Read article →


Detection of chromosomal rearrangements

Recently in Nature, Cheng-Zhong Zhang and colleagues published a very interesting approach that provides the first direct experimental evidence for a mechanism leading to chromothripsis (1). What exactly is chromothripsis? Zhang’s publication piqued my interest to dig a bit deeper into this phenomenon. Chromothripsis is a kind of catastrophic mutational event that results in massive rearrangements… Read article →