If you have not yet heard of cancer stem cells (CSCs), often considered to be the real culprits in cancer, it is about time you do. CSCs are stem cells found in tumors. Drugs that target them are showing promise in clinical trials. More on that later; first, let’s introduce the concept of stem cells:
All normal tissues in our bodies develop from a small number of very special cells known as stem cells. Stem cells can divide a seemingly unlimited number of times. Continue reading…
Editor’s note: Drugs known as targeted therapies can be used to treat some forms of cancer, based on specific substances found in cancer cells. Scientists have identified a protein called STAT3, which is found in basal-like breast cancer. Drugs that target STAT3 are being tested in volunteer patients in clinical trials.
“Two Northwestern University scientists have identified a biomarker strongly associated with basal-like breast cancer, a highly aggressive carcinoma that is resistant to many types of chemotherapy. The biomarker, a protein called STAT3, provides a smart target for new therapeutics designed to treat this often deadly cancer.
“Using breast cancer patient data taken from The Cancer Genome Atlas, molecular biologists Curt M. Horvath and Robert W. Tell used powerful computational and bioinformatics techniques to detect patterns of gene expression in two cancer subtypes. They found that a small number of genes are activated by STAT3 protein signaling in basal-like breast cancers but not in luminal breast cancers.
“Basal-like cancer is a category that includes a number of different breast cancers, including the highly aggressive form called triple negative cancer.”
“Only 15% of patients with squamous cell lung cancer – the second most common lung cancer – survive five years past diagnosis. Little is understood about how the deadly disease arises, preventing development of targeted therapies that could serve as a second line of defense once standard chemotherapy regimens fail.
“Published online in Cell Reports on June 19, Huntsman Cancer Institute investigators report that misregulation of two genes, sox2 and lkb1, drives squamous cell lung cancer in mice. The discovery uncovers new treatment strategies, and provides a clinically relevant mouse model in which to test them.”
Editor’s note: Some tumors have specific genetic mutations that can allow them to be treated with drugs known as targeted therapies. Studying mice with squamous cell lung cancer tumors, scientists have now discovered two new tumor mutations that open up the possibility for new drugs to be developed for humans. The mutations also indicate that some drugs that already exist for other cancers may be used to treat people with squamous cell lung cancer. More investigation is required before the results of these findings might translate to treatments for patients.
Vultur A, Villanueva J, Krepler C, Rajan G, et al. Oncogene. Apr 29, 2013.
“Elevated activity of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling cascade is found in the majority of human melanomas and is known to regulate proliferation, survival and invasion. Current targeted therapies focus on decreasing the activity of this pathway; however, we do not fully understand how these therapies impact tumor biology, especially given that melanoma is a heterogeneous disease. Using a three-dimensional (3D), collagen-embedded spheroid melanoma model, we observed that MEK and BRAF inhibitors can increase the invasive potential of ∼20% of human melanoma cell lines…”
IKBKE, a newly identified gene that is activated by tobacco, could be a fresh target for lung cancer therapies. A new study in the journal Oncogene sheds light on the molecular pathways surrounding the activation of IKBKE, which contributes to lung carcinogenesis.
Patients tend to develop resistance to traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, the search for genetic therapy targets could yield individualized, powerful treatments that do not decrease in efficacy. Researchers at Florida’s Moffitt Cancer Center found that, in addition to playing a role in the development of chemoresistance, IKBKE is also part of a carcinogenic molecular pathway that can be set off by tobacco smoke. Continue reading…