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LAB WATCH Avoiding Unnecessary Chemotherapy BY EMMA WALTON genevieve.almouzni@curie.fr zachary.gurard-levin@curie.fr 11 SPRING 2015 N° 37 found in barcode readers, CD/DVD players, and laser pointers, for example— which were much more powerful at the time than light emitting diodes (LEDs). However, recent advances allowed the researchers to develop a novel light amplification technique by wedging a crystal between two LED panels—a system powerful enough to create a laser. “While the beam is not as strong as with laser diodes, which are still ahead in terms of power, our intent was primarily to show that it is now possible to use LEDs,” explains Adrien Barbet, who conducted the research. Apart from being cheaper and more durable, LEDs are also far more powerful than laser diodes for pumping light in the visible part of the spectrum. “This means our system could soon find applications in industry, such as material processing and sensing, as well as in telemetry and remote sensing,” he adds. ii adrien.barbet@institutoptique.fr CNT pollution is measured using Xenopus larvae. © C. SARRIEU, E. FLAHAUT, L. GAUTHIER/CNRS PHOTOHÈQUE/CIRIMAT/ECOLAB The histone chaperone HJURP helps differentiate between luminal A and B breast carcinoma. Molecular Oncology R esearchers led by Geneviève Almouzni1 at the Institut Curie have discovered a new prognostic marker of breast cancer2 that may help physicians determine which patients actually need chemotherapy, while sparing others unnecessary treatment. Following local surgery and/or radiotherapy, physicians must decide whether patients should receive chemotherapy to reduce the risk of recurrence. “This decision is based on criteria such as age, tumor size, grade, and hormone receptor status,” explains Zachary Gurard-Levin, a lead author of the study. “Yet these factors, along with DNA mutations, are not the only ones to influence pathology evolution,” Gurard-Levin stresses. “Cancer is also driven by ‘epigenetic’ alterations that affect how the DNA is ‘read’ without changing its sequence, and that ultimately determine which genes are switched on or off.” Working with the Institut Curie hospital, Almouzni’s team analyzed gene expression in tumors from 1127 breast cancer patients, focusing on epigenetic factors. “We identified certain epigenetic regulatory genes, the histone chaperone HJURP for example, that were highly expressed in some breast cancer subtypes, including the ‘luminal B’ type, but not the Luminal A ‘luminal A’ type,” says Gurard-Levin. It is important to distinguish these two types of breast cancer as their clinical profiles are very similar, but their responses to chemotherapy differ. Yet current markers used to Luminal B differentiate them are inadequate. The new findings, validated in an independent cohort of 71 patients, now provide physicians with a new biomarker to identify these subtypes. “Still, the most exciting result involves the histone chaperone HJURP,” says Gurard-Levin. “This is the first biomarker that can determine whether luminal A subtype patients have a good or poor prognosis. Clinical use of this epigenetic factor should help doctors predict the risk of recurrence more accurately.” Hopefully, such tests will ensure that chemotherapy is only administered to those who really need it. ii 1. Director of the Laboratoire dynamique du noyau (CNRS / Institut Curie) and of the Centre de Recherche de l’Institut Curie. 2. Z. Gurard-Levin et al., “The histone chaperone HJURP is a new independent prognostic marker for luminal A breast carcinoma,” Molecular Oncology, 2015. 9(3): 657-74. © E. GURARD-LEVIN/CNRS/INSTITUT CURIE


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