Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have developed a way to test whether the new targeted therapy Tarceva and the widely used chemotherapy drug Taxol are effectively killing tumor cells. They say that with further refinement, the test may make it possible to accurately assess whether patients are responding to these agents, as well as potentially others, within days of beginning therapy.
In two different studies being presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the research team will describe how the test measures the activity of several members of the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) family of enzymes, which are the triggering molecules that allow a cell to grow and divide. CDK cell cycle enzymes are the end target of numerous cellular pathways that are involved in cancer development and progression, the researchers say. Before these studies, no one has been able to accurately test the function of enzymes from a tumor sample, says Naoto Ueno, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in the Breast Cancer Translational Research Laboratory and the Department of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. "Testing CDK only has been possible by measuring gene expression, but our industry collaborator has provided a way that lets us test real enzyme activity within a human tumor sample," he says. "Our hope is to be able to use this system as a molecular marker to assess whether an anti-cancer therapy is working."
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Nancy Jensen | EurekAlert!
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