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Archive - Nov 5, 2019

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Blood Test for CA125 Level Can Help General Practitioners Spot Ovarian Cancer in Women with Suspicious Symptoms

Testing for levels of CA125 in the blood is a useful tool for gauging the likelihood of ovarian cancer and could help detect other types of cancer among patients in primary care, according to research presented at the 2019 National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Glasgow, UK (November 3-5). Although the CA125 test is already in use in countries around the world, this is the first large study to look at how well it performs in general practice for testing women who have possible symptoms of ovarian cancer. Researchers say their results could guide women and their general practitioners (GPs) on whether more invasive tests are needed to check for ovarian and other cancers. They also say that clinical guidelines could now be improved to ensure urgent referrals are made for women most at risk. The research was led by Dr. Garth Funston (photo), a Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, UK. He said: "Less than half of women with ovarian cancer survive for five years following diagnosis. The majority of women are not diagnosed until the disease is advanced, which makes it more difficult to cure. It's important that GPs have effective tools to detect ovarian cancer early and ensure patients are referred appropriately. While CA125 is widely used in general practice in the UK and internationally, prior to this study, it was unclear how effective a test it really was in general practice." The research included data on 50,780 women who visited GPs in England with possible signs of ovarian cancer, such as persistent bloating or abdominal pain, and were tested for levels of CA125 in their blood between May 2011 and December 2014.

Critical Protein (ZBP1) That Could Spur West Nile/Zika Virus Treatments Is Identified

A protein that is critical in controlling replication of West Nile and Zika viruses -- and could be important for developing therapies to prevent and treat those viruses -- has been identified by a Georgia State University (GSU) biologist and his research group. The researchers found Z-DNA binding protein 1 (ZBP1) is a sensor that plays a significant role in triggering a robust immune response when it detects a viral infection within cells. The Georgia State study, published online on September 11, 2019 in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, found that ZBP1 is essential for restricting both West Nile and Zika virus replication, and that it prevents West Nile-associated encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in mice. The article is titled “"Z-DNA-Binding Protein 1 Is Critical for Controlling Virus Replication and Survival in West Nile Virus Encephalitis.” The absence of ZBP1 in mice leads to 100 percent mortality when mice are infected with even a non-disease-producing strain of West Nile Virus, the study found. "It's significant because you take a virus that has never been shown to kill anything and, if you block this protein, the virus will just kill everything," said Mukesh Kumar, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology at GSU, and senior author of the study. "We discovered that when cells are infected with viruses such as Zika and West Nile, they respond by triggering necroptosis, a form of programmed cell death, via ZBP1 signaling. This inhibits viral replication and spread, allowing the immune system to clear the virus." Dr. Kumar said the findings could present new treatment strategies for viruses that can infect the central nervous system by modulating ZBP1 expression. Subsequent research by Dr. Kumar's team will explore effectiveness against similar viruses such as Eastern equine encephalitis and Powassan virus.