For more Body & Brain stories,
rogue in cancer
By Nathan Seppa
A defective protein might be a key
go-between in the string of terrible
molecular events that lead to lung cancer. The protein, Rac1b, gets activated
by other compounds and launches cells
toward malignant behavior, experiments in human cells and mice suggest.
The findings open the door for lung
cancer researchers to investigate the
molecular chain reaction in which Rac1b
is involved. Since Rac1b seems to show up
early in lung cancer, it might also make a
target for diagnosis or early-stage treatment, researchers report in the July 11
Science Translational Medicine.
“This is really comprehensive work,”
says Farrah Kheradmand, a pulmon-
ologist at Baylor College of Medicine in
Houston who wasn’t part of the study.
By Laura Sanders
A signal in the brain can predict who will
continue to suffer back pain more than
a year after an initial injury. This early
warning sign could reveal new ways to
reverse or prevent pain that lingers long
after an injury heals, scientists report
online July 1 in Nature Neuroscience.
“We’re very excited about these
results,” says coauthor A. Vania Apkarian
of Northwestern University in Chicago.
“We think they open up a whole new way
of looking at chronic pain.”
The study included 39 people with
newish back pain, about half of whom
still suffered a full year later. These
people’s pain had turned chronic, mor-
phing from the pain associated with the
original problem to something more
devastating. At the start, pain intensity
was similar in people with chronic pain
and in those who recovered.