Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the World, claiming 10 million lives each year. Recurring annually on February 4, World Cancer Day is a global initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). One of the key goals of cancer research is to improve patient outcomes – these efforts begin as research projects in labs around the world. From developing and testing alternative cancer drugs, to improving techniques for detecting and monitoring cancer in patients, this blog post highlights a selection of the innovative cancer research published in Research Features over the last year. Follow the links to read the articles in full.
In an effort to find alternative cancer drugs, Professors P. Andrew Evans, John Allingham and Andrew Craig at Queen’s University, Canada, have developed a synthetic analogue of a natural toxin present in a marine sponge. Both the natural toxin and the team’s analogue have been found to disrupt actin filaments that allow cancer cells to move. Without actin filaments, cancer cells lose the ability to invade healthy tissues, which halts cancer metastasis, a process responsible for 90% of cancer-related deaths. [Read more]
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical School are using in vivo murine patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models in pre-clinical trials of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). These models – in which tumorous tissues are transplanted into immunocompromised mice – serve as powerful tools for testing investigational new drugs for the treatment of AML. Lead researcher Dr Haley Ramsey is utilising PDX models to help clinicians get the right drugs to the right patients. [Read more]
Metastatic prostate cancer is associated with various changes occurring in the DNA. Sequencing tumour DNA from solid tumours is useful but challenging, mainly because sampling solid tumours is an invasive procedure. Dr Manish Kohli, from the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, uses circulating tumour DNA – DNA from tumour cells that freely circulates in the bloodstream and is therefore easily accessible – to identify genomic alterations and assess their clinical relevance in patients with different stages of prostate cancer. His team’s findings may be helpful in prognosis and in selecting patients for treatment. [Read more]
Treating tumours requires developing therapies that target specific molecules that are found on cancer cells. Identifying ideal targets is challenging. Dr Hans-Peter Gerber, CSO of 3T Biosciences, works with his team on developing next-generation therapies for oncology, autoimmune and infectious disease patients. Their innovative approach, which harnesses the company’s proprietary screening platform and computational technology, eliminates two major challenges in advancing T cell receptor-based therapeutics. 3T Biosciences is currently seeking partners to collaborate in the development of TCR-based therapies. [Read more]
Ovarian cancer is a common and deadly type of cancer which often develops resistance to drugs such as cisplatin, a barrier to its treatment. The cisplatin resistance arises from undesirable binding of the drug to glutathione and metallothionein, thus inactivating it. Pradip Mascharak, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has shown that in ovarian cancer cells, cisplatin resistance can be reduced with targeted delivery of carbon monoxide (CO) via photoCORMs as CO donors. Carbon monoxide produced this effect by inhibiting cystathionine β-synthase, an enzyme involved in the synthesis of glutathione and metallothionein. [Read more]
Cells release extracellular vesicles (EVs) to communicate with other cells. Lately, EVs were found to play a significant role in cancer development. Dr Wai-Leng Lee from Monash University Malaysia showed that EVs mediate chemoresistance (resistance to chemotherapy) and promote cancer cell survival. More importantly, because EVs secreted by cancer cells contain cancer-specific molecules, EVs have emerged as a novel source of non-invasive cancer biomarkers that could be useful for both early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. [Read more]