A breakthrough discovery into how living cells process and respond to chemical information could help advance the development of treatments for a large number of cancers and other cellular disorders that have been resistant to therapy. An international collaboration of researchers, led by scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, have unlocked the secret behind the activation of the Ras family of proteins, one of the most important components of cellular signaling networks in biology and major drivers of cancers that are among the most difficult to treat.
Posts Tagged ‘cancer research’
One factor that makes glioblastoma cancers so difficult to treat is that malignant cells from the tumors spread throughout the brain by following nerve fibers and blood vessels to invade new locations. Now, researchers have learned to hijack this migratory mechanism, turning it against the cancer by using a film of nanofibers thinner than human hair to lure tumor cells away.
Instead of invading new areas, the migrating cells latch onto the specially-designed nanofibers and follow them to a location – potentially outside the brain – where they can be captured and killed. Using this technique, researchers can partially move tumors from inoperable locations to more accessible ones. Though it won’t eliminate the cancer, the new technique reduced the size of brain tumors in animal models, suggesting that this form of brain cancer might one day be treated more like a chronic disease.
“We have designed a polymer thin film nanofiber that mimics the structure of nerves and blood vessels that brain tumor cells normally use to invade other parts of the brain,” explained Ravi Bellamkonda, lead investigator and chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “The cancer cells normally latch onto these natural structures and ride them like a monorail to other parts of the brain. By providing an attractive alternative fiber, we can efficiently move the tumors along a different path to a destination that we choose.”
Details of the technique were reported February 16 in the journal Nature Materials. The research was supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health; by Atlanta-based Ian’s Friends Foundation, and by the Georgia Research Alliance. In addition to the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, the research team included Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University.
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that alternative splicing – a process that allows a single gene to code for multiple proteins – appears to be a new potential target for anti-telomerase cancer therapy.
The enzyme telomerase is overexpressed in almost all cancer cells, and previous research efforts have failed to identify good telomerase inhibitors. The study by Dr. Woodring Wright and UT Southwestern colleagues in the April 4 issue of Cell Reports identifies a new approach for inhibiting telomerase, which is an enzyme that drives uncontrolled division and replication of cancer cells.
Researchers have discovered a unique monoclonal antibody that can effectively reach inside a cancer cell, a key goal for these important anticancer agents, since most proteins that cause cancer or are associated with cancer are buried inside cancer cells. Scientists from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Eureka Therapeutics have collaborated to create the new human monoclonal antibody, which targets a protein associated with many types of cancer and is of great interest to cancer researchers.
Unlike other human therapeutic monoclonal antibodies, which can target only proteins that remain on the outside of cancer cells, the new monoclonal antibody, called ESK1, targets a protein that resides on the inside of the cell.
First he discovered the double helix, now he hopes to find a cure for cancer. In what has been billed as his “most important work since the double helix,” James Watson recently elaborated upon the dual role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as both an elixer of life and a deadly force behind incurable mesenchymal cancers.
Although antioxidants have been popularly promoted as important health food choices, Dr. Watson writes that they can be quite harmful in late stage cancer, often causing rapid progression of the disease.
According to Watson, cancers that become resistant to chemotherapeutic treatment, simultaneously become resistant to ionizing radiotherapy due to the action of ROS to induce apoptosis. Therefore, the key to curing cancer will largely depend upon discovering new ways of reducing antioxidant levels.