Researchers from Eli Lilly & Company and the Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) today announced finding a novel recurring mutation of the gene AKT1 in breast, colorectal and ovarian cancers. The altered form of AKT1 appears to cause tumor cell proliferation and may play a role in making cells resistant to certain types of therapies. The findings are reported in an advance online publication (AOP) of the journal Nature.
The PI3-Kinase/AKT pathway is among the most commonly activated cellular pathways in human cancers and members of this pathway are among the most frequently targeted for new cancer drug discovery efforts. Activation of this pathway results in cancer cell growth and cell survival. Although AKT1 is central to pathway activation, its role in cancer has been that of an intermediary between mutated upstream regulatory proteins and downstream survival signaling proteins. This is the first evidence of direct mutation of AKT1 in human cancer tumors: it was discovered in clinical samples from cancer patients, yet has never been detected in cancer cell lines.
“This discovery is a seminal finding in cancer biology that confirms AKT1 as an oncogene in breast, colorectal and ovarian cancer. The mutation alters the electrostatics of binding pocket in the pleckstrin homology domain, the portion of the enzyme that docks with phospholipids on the cell membrane,” said Kerry L. Blanchard, PhD, MD, Executive Director, Discovery Biology Research, Eli Lilly & Company.
To identify the AKT1 mutation, the researchers analyzed 150 tumor samples from patients with either breast, colorectal or ovarian cancer (50 samples from each tumor type). Analysis of the data showed that 8 percent of breast, 6 percent of colorectal and 2 percent of ovarian tumors had the AKT1 mutation in the samples that were screened in their study.
“Recently, molecular features such as the AKT1 mutation are beginning to change drug development efforts. This discovery adds to the short but growing list of molecular features that may help guide both current and future cancer drug development,” said John Carpten, PhD, Senior Investigator and Director of TGen’s Integrated Cancer Genomics Division and the study’s lead author. “The next step is to determine the prevalence of the AKT1 mutation in different populations and, hopefully, use the information gained to stratify patients going into clinical trials for AKT inhibitors.”
If validated by further studies, the identification of this recurring mutation has the potential to impact cancer treatment and drug development.
“This is a gorgeous study that used a variety of sophisticated techniques to provide new insights into the tumorigenic process,” said Bert Vogelstein, MD, Director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics & Therapeutics at The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
James E. Thomas, PhD, of Lilly’s Cancer Discovery Research division, explained, “AKT1 is a protein kinase or enzyme that plays a key role in activating survival, proliferation and metabolic pathways. Interestingly, other cellular proteins that regulate this network have also been shown to be mutated in a variety of cancers including lung, breast ovary, prostate, colorectal and brain cancers. This mutation in AKT1 is striking direct evidence for the role of AKT1 in cancer formation.”
The identification of the AKT1 mutation was a collaborative effort between Eli Lilly & Company and TGen. “This discovery demonstrates the importance of studying the genetic make up of cancers at the clinical level rather than relying on model systems,” adds Jeffrey Trent, PhD, Scientific Director of TGen.
“This is a key study highlighting Lilly’s commitment to translational research approaches in cancer drug discovery and development. Furthermore, this work is a great example of a successful public-private partnership at a global level that involves Lilly Research Laboratories in Indianapolis, TGen in Phoenix, Lilly Singapore Centre for Drug Discovery, and the Economic Development Board of Singapore”, adds Richard Gaynor, MD, Vice President of Oncology Discovery at Eli Lilly & Company. He added, “This mutation further validates AKT1 as an attractive drug target, and it also will be a valuable tool for the stratification of patients for targeted therapies. This paradigm of identifying specific defects in cancer cells to successfully develop innovative therapies has been validated with oncology drugs such as Gleevec in leukemia and Herceptin in breast cancer.”
Helping to Transport Proteins Inside the Cell
21.11.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
UNH researchers create a more effective hydrogel for healing wounds
21.11.2018 | University of New Hampshire
Innsbruck quantum physicists have constructed a diode for magnetic fields and then tested it in the laboratory. The device, developed by the research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair, could open up a number of new applications.
Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the...
Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.
Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
21.11.2018 | Life Sciences
21.11.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
21.11.2018 | Life Sciences