Research Highlights

2008 Key Findings

Migraines associated with lower risk of breast cancer
A first-of-its-kind study led by Dr. Christopher Li suggests that women with a history of migraine headaches appear to be at a significantly lower risk of the most common subtypes of breast cancer. The biological mechanism behind the association between migraines and breast cancer is not fully known, but Li and colleagues suspect that it relates to fluctuating levels of circulating hormones.

Researchers validate new 'HIV-test' equivalent for early detection of lung cancer
Dr. Samir M. Hanash and colleagues reported validation of a test that relies on immune-system signals, much like an HIV test to detect the presence of lung cancer a year prior to diagnosis, long before symptoms appear.

Breastfeeding may reduce risk of aggressive breast-cancer type

Predoctoral associate Amanda Phipps and colleagues found that women who breastfed for 6 months or longer faced a lower risk of two subtypes of breast cancer, including triple-negative cancer, which can be particularly aggressive and difficult to treat. Such information could help physicians to better predict which women are likely to develop certain subtypes of breast cancer.

A new biomarker for early cancer detection? Research reveals that 'microRNA' may fit the bill
Dr. Muneesh Tewari and colleagues have discovered that microRNAs - molecular workhorses that regulate gene expression - are released by cancer cells and circulate in the blood, which gives them the potential to become a new class of biomarkers to detect cancer at its earliest stages.

'Hibernation-on-demand' drug hydrogen sulfide significantly improves survival after extreme blood loss
Research led by Dr. Mark Roth has demonstrated for the first time that the administration of tiny amounts of inhaled or intravenous hydrogen sulfide - the molecule that gives rotten eggs their sulfurous stench - significantly improves survival from extreme blood loss in rats. Dr. Roth's latest results bring us one step closer to developing a technique that could buy time for patients on organ-transplant lists and in operating rooms, emergency rooms and battlefields.

Symptom screening plus a simple blood test equals a 20 percent jump in early detection of ovarian cancer
Women's reports of persistent, recent-onset symptoms linked to ovarian cancer - abdominal or pelvic pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and abdominal bloating - when combined with the standard CA125 blood test may improve the early detection of ovarian cancer by 20 percent, according to new findings by Dr. M. Robyn Andersen and colleagues.

Patient's own infection-fighting T cells put late-stage melanoma into long-term remission
A team led by Dr. Cassian Yee reported the first successful use of a human patient's cloned infection-fighting T cells as the sole therapy to put an advanced solid-tumor cancer-in this case, melanoma-into long-term remission without radiation or chemotherapy.

Researchers move one step closer to pancreatic-cancer test
A multicenter team of researchers has identified a panel of proteins linked to early development of pancreatic cancer in mice that also applies to early stages of the disease in humans. This breakthrough brings scientists a significant step closer to developing a blood test to detect pancreatic cancer early, when cure rates are highest.

Research explains how advanced prostate cancer becomes resistant to therapy
A multi-institution team of researchers led by Drs. Peter Nelson and Elahe Mostaghel of Fred Hutch and Drs. R. Bruce Montgomery and Paul Lange of the University of Washington School of Medicine has uncovered what may be the key to understanding how prostate tumors eventually become resistant to androgen-deprivation therapy, the treatment of choice for advanced, metastatic prostate cancer for decades.

Researchers document rapid, dramatic 'reverse evolution' in the threespine stickleback fish
Evolution is supposed to inch forward over eons, but sometimes, at least in the case of a little fish called the threespine stickleback, the process can go in relative warp-speed reverse, according to research by Dr. Katie Peichel and colleagues. This discovery sheds light on the role of genetic variation as well as non-genetic influences in evolution.

What's good for the heart may be good for the prostate
Men who eat a heart-healthy diet-that is, low in fat and red meat, moderate in alcohol consumption, and high in vegetables and lean protein-may also be doing their prostates a favor, according to a study by Dr. Alan Kristal and colleagues.

Combined hormone therapy increases risk of lobular breast cancer fourfold after just three years of use
Postmenopausal women who take combined estrogen/progestin hormone-replacement therapy as few as three years face a fourfold increased risk of developing various forms of lobular breast cancer, according to the largest study of combined HRT and lobular cancer risk in the United States, led by Dr. Christopher Li.