Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Computational analysis identifies drugs to treat drug-resistant breast cancer

Researchers have used computational analysis to identify a new Achilles heel for the treatment of drug-resistant breast cancer. The results, which are published in Molecular Systems Biology, reveal that the disruption of glucose metabolism is an effective therapeutic strategy for the treatment of tumours that have acquired resistance to front-line cancer drugs such as Lapatinib.

“The growth and survival of cancer cells can often be impaired by treatment with drugs that interfere with the actions of one or more oncogenes,” said Prahlad Ram, the senior author of the study and Professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. “However, the clinical benefits to patients are often short lived due to acquired drug resistance. Finding alternative intervention points or so-called new addictions for cancer cells is of critical importance for designing novel therapeutic strategies against tumours. Our results reveal specific new targets for drug intervention in the metabolic pathways of cancer cells and identify existing drugs that can be used to treat drug-resistant cancer.”

Lapatinib is used for the treatment of patients with advanced or metastatic breast cancer in cases where tumours overexpress the ErbB2 gene. The ErbB2 gene provides instructions for making a specific growth factor receptor. If too much of this ErbB2 growth factor receptor is made, it can lead to cells that grow and divide continuously, one of the defining characteristics of breast cancer.

The scientists used microarrays to measure gene expression in breast cancer cells with and without treatment with Lapatinib. Computational analysis of more than 15000 gene interactions revealed four major populations of genes that were regulated in a significant way. Three of these groups were the regular suspects related to drug resistance, such as genes involved in oxidation and reduction reactions or cell cycle processes. A fourth group comprised a network of reactions linked to the deprivation of glucose.

Analysis of the gene expression networks of ErbB2-positive breast cancer patients revealed that the glucose deprivation network is linked to low survival rates of the patients. Computational screening of a library of existing drugs for therapeutics that target the glucose deprivation response identified several drugs that could be effective in treating drug-resistant breast cancer.

“By developing novel gene expression analysis algorithms and integrating diverse data, we have been able to look beyond changes in the immediate molecular signaling pathways of breast cancer cells and to consider the wider system of molecular networks within the cell,” remarked Ram. “Our approach predicts new uses for existing drugs that impact the metabolism of breast cancer cells and may offer an expedient route to improved treatments for breast cancer patients.”

The glucose-deprivation response network counteracts EGFR signalling in lapatinib resistant cells
Kakajan Komurov, Jen-Te Tseng, Melissa Muller, Elena G Seviour, Tyler J Moss, Lifeng Yang, Deepak Nagrath, Prahlad T Ram
Read the paper: doi: 10.1038/msb.2012.25
Further information on Molecular Systems Biology is available at
Media Contacts
Barry Whyte
Head | Public Relations and Communications
Tel: +49 6221 8891 108/111
About EMBO
EMBO stands for excellence in the life sciences. The organization enables the best science by supporting talented researchers, stimulating scientific exchange and advancing policies for a world-class European research environment.

EMBO is an organization of 1500 leading life scientist members that fosters new generations of researchers to produce world-class scientific results.

EMBO helps young scientists to advance their research, promote their international reputations and ensure their mobility. Courses, workshops, conferences and scientific journals disseminate the latest research and offer training in cutting-edge techniques to maintain high standards of excellence in research practice. EMBO helps to shape science and research policy by seeking input and feedback from our community and by following closely the trends in science in Europe.

Barry Whyte | EMBO
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>