The scientific community has made significant strides in recent years in identifying important genetic contributors to malignancy and developing therapeutic agents that target altered genes and proteins.
A recent approach to treat cancer called synthetic lethality takes advantage of genetic alterations in cancer cells that make them more susceptible to certain drugs. Alan F. List, MD, president and CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center, co-authored an article on synthetic lethality featured in the October 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Genetic alterations in cancer in humans may involve gene inactivation, amplification or inactivation,” said List. These changes are not present in nonmalignant cells. Common chemotherapeutic agents aggressively kill tumor cells irrespective of genetic alterations. They also have a negative impact on normal cells and can cause significant side effects. Synthetic lethality harnesses the genetic differences between tumor cells and normal cells to minimize the effects on normal cells, and maximize a drug’s effects on cancer cells.
Synthetic lethality can target a variety of cellular defects, including alterations in DNA repair, cell-cycle control and metabolism. This approach can also be used to target interactions between tumor cells and surrounding normal cells that promote tumor survival and oncogenes that drive tumorigenesis that are difficult to target directly. Many of the synthetic lethal drugs and targets have been identified in large-scale drug screens of the entire human genome.
An example of synthetic lethality is the recent approach being investigated to treat breast cancer patients with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. BRCA1 plays an important role is repairing damaged DNA. Women who have mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 have an increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer because their cells cannot properly repair DNA. This suggests that BRCA mutated breast cancer cells may be more susceptible to drugs that target DNA. Laboratory studies have confirmed this hypothesis by showing that agents that target another DNA repair protein called PARP significantly kill BRCA mutated cells. Several PARP inhibitors are now being investigated in clinical trials in breast cancer patients, and early results are promising.
“The goal of current anticancer approaches is to offer individualized and highly selective therapy. The treatment model for many anticancer approaches has been expanded, with movement away from dose-intensive, non-targeted cytotoxic agents to combination chemoimmunotherapy, new therapeutic combinations and targeted agents,” said List. Synthetic lethality approaches may provide an additional avenue for individualized patient treatment.
About Moffitt Cancer Center
Located in Tampa, Moffitt is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research, its contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is the top-ranked cancer hospital in the Southeast and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” for cancer since 1999. With more than 4,500 employees, Moffitt has an economic impact on Florida of nearly $1.6 billion. For more information, visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the Moffitt momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Kim Polacek | EurekAlert!
Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences