Advances in Cancer Research, Volume 79

October 1, 2001

In this time-honored series, the editors have assembled a panel of internationally recognized experts and accomplished a "tour de force" in presenting an overview of the past year’s most salient discoveries in cancer research. They have chosen

In this time-honored series, the editors have assembleda panel of internationally recognized experts and accomplished a "tour deforce" in presenting an overview of the past year’s most salientdiscoveries in cancer research. They have chosen topics such as angiogenesis,metastasis, polyomavirus persistence, tumor development, and animal models ofmelanoma. Editors George Vande Woude, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute, andGeorge Klein, MD, of the Karolinska Institute, are prominent researchers withthe knowledge and experience necessary to objectively gauge the significance ofthe progress made by others.

This small but densely written book highlights the emergence of new conceptsand paradigms; it reads well and will benefit clinicians and basic researchersalike. Numerous illustrations and tables make reading the volume easy andstimulating.

Not surprisingly, the first chapter focuses on the present and future role ofantiangiogenesis agents. One section is devoted to growth factors and receptortyrosine kinases; other sections review platelet-derived endothelial cell growthfactor/thymidine phosphorylase, matrix metalloproteinases, the plasminogenactivator/plasmin system, and integrins. Emerging concepts related toangiogenesis are reviewed, and the pitfalls and promises of this therapeuticmodality are highlighted. The concise yet exhaustive description of mostantiangiogenic agents in development or in clinical trials allows an interestedreader to understand the various therapeutic targets identified and the currentstage of their laboratory and clinical validation.

Moreover, there is an interesting section on the hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)/Metpathway and its importance in tumor growth, invasion, and metastasis, as well asB-cell neoplasia development. After reading it, one can conclude that, althoughthe precise role of this mechanism needs to be elucidated, evidence indicatesthat deregulated HGF/Met signaling may contribute to the development andprogression of specific subtypes of B-cell lymphomas, including Burkitt’slymphoma, large B-cell lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.

The complex field of metastasis and the new tools for studying the metastaticprocess, such as in vivo videomicroscopy, are described. The latter method willenable researchers to study the metastatic process as it evolves, as well as theeffects of molecular interventions on specific steps in metastasis. The"seed and soil" hypothesis of metastasis is revisited and discussed.The authors conclude the section by identifying potential targets forantimetastatic therapy.

An elegantly written chapter describes the indispensable role of themicroenvironment in the natural history of low-grade B-cell neoplasms. Indeed,the authors address the fundamental role of bystander, nontumoral cells in boththe onset and progression of these diseases.

The role of the Epstein-Barr virus is revisited with new knowledge aboutlatent membrane protein 2 (LMP2). This protein may regulate reactivation fromlatency by interfering with normal B-cell signal transduction processes. Currentconcepts about the function of LMP2 are described, defining a new class ofregulators of herpesvirus latency.

The chapter on mucin-associated antigens in gastrointestinal malignanciessummarizes recent advances that may lead to the use of these antigens in theearly diagnosis and, possibly, treatment of these forms of cancer. Morespecifically, the chapter focuses on alterations in mucin peptide andglycosylation during carcinogenesis. It addresses the prognostic relevance ofthese various antigens and explores their functional aspects regarding invasionand metastasis.

Finally, while the book undoubtedly reflects some key advances in the fieldof cancer research, the series, by its nature, can never review cancer researchas broadly as one might wish. With each volume, the editors choose a few topicsand give the authors enough space for a comprehensive review. That is both thestrength and weakness of this book.