Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Exploiting the stress response to detonate mitochondria in cancer cells

20.04.2011
Researchers at The Wistar Institute have found a new way to force cancer cells to self-destruct. Low doses of one anti-cancer drug currently in development, called Gamitrinib, sensitize tumor cells to a second drug, called TRAIL, also currently in clinical development as part of an anticancer regimen.

Their findings, published in the April issue of the Journal for Clinical Investigation, show how this combination approach kills tumor cells in both mouse models of glioblastoma and human glioblastoma cells. Glioblastomas are the most common and aggressive form of malignant brain cancer, affecting roughly 6 out of every 100,000 people. There is currently no effective treatment for glioblastoma, and patients rarely survive more than a year after diagnosis.

"We found that a low dose of Gamitrinib makes cancer cells susceptible to TRAIL, bypassing many of the mechanisms tumors use to survive," said senior author Dario Altieri, M.D., the Robert and Penny Fox Distinguished Professor at Wistar and director of The Wistar Institute Cancer Center. "Here we have found a new way to combine cancer therapies, one that could be applied to treating many types of cancer because both of these drugs target different mechanisms of tumor cell survival that revolve around mitochondria."

As commonly depicted in high school biology texts, mitochondria are the "powerhouses" of the cells, organelles whose main function is to turn sugar into useable energy. What is less commonly known is the role of mitochondria in programmed cell death, or apoptosis, the self-destruct system hardwired into every cell. Apoptosis evolved, in part, as a way for the body to react to extreme stress, a means to sacrifice damaged cells for the greater good of the organism. Cancer cells rely on the mitochondria to provide the energy rapidly-growing tumors need to survive, but find ways to block the signaling pathways that trigger apoptosis. Many researchers, including Altieri, have looked for ways to force tumor cells to hit this self-destruct switch.

Gamitrinib is a chemical inhibitor first developed by Altieri and his colleagues in 2009 at the University of Massachusetts. The drug binds to and inhibits Hsp90—Heat Shock Protein-90—a so-called chaperone protein that is highly active in mitochondria and other cellular organelles where it helps regulate and "rescue" other proteins, particularly in times of stress. Their previous studies have shown that Gamitrinib is effective in damaging tumor cell mitochondria, which can lead to cell death.

"When tumor cells are confronted with lower concentrations of Gamitrinib, they mount a stress-related defensive system, essentially eating damaged mitochondria and altering how genes are turned on and off to compensate for induced defects in the mitochondria," Altieri said. "This process naturally suppresses Nuclear Factor-kappa Beta, a protein that prevents apoptosis from happening. Ironically, it's this very defensive measure that we can exploit in killing tumor cells."

Nuclear Factor-kappa Beta (NF-êÂ) broadly promotes survival in tumors by halting the processes that lead to apoptosis. Altieri and his colleagues wanted to see if the suppression of NF-ê would provide an opportunity for TRAIL, a small engineered molecule that mimics the signals used to induce apoptosis.

In their experiments, researchers confirmed previous studies that showed how TRAIL alone did not affect glioblastoma in cell and animal models of the disease. TRAIL plus Gamitrinib, however, stimulated damage to mitochondria in tumor cells, which started a cascading series of reactions, culminating in cell death. Preclinical experiments conducted in mouse models of glioblastoma demonstrated that the combination did not cause any detectable toxic side effects.

According to Altieri, the fact that Gamitrinib and TRAIL are in clinical development already may help speed the process that could see eventual clinical trials of the two drugs together. "There is much preclinical work to be done, of course, but we are very interested in laying the groundwork now toward initial clinical trials," said Altieri.

Going forward, the researchers also plan to delve deeper into the cellular processes at work.

"I find the basic biology of this system fascinating, since here we show how mitochondria, which are the only organelles that have their own DNA, must communicate with the DNA in the cell's nucleus," Altieri said. "It is not a well-understood process by any means."

This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health to Altieri, and a grant to co-author Markus D. Siegelin, M.D. from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation).

The co-first authors of the study are Takehiko Dohi, Ph.D., currently a member of the Altieri lab at Wistar, and Siegelin, formerly a member of Altieri's previous laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and now a resident clinician at Columbia University. Contributors from the University of Massachusetts also include Christopher M. Raskett, Gregory M. Orlowski, Christine M. Powers, Candace A. Gilbert, Alonzo H. Ross, and Janet Plescia.

Greg Lester | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wistar.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bare bones: Making bones transparent
27.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>