The researchers say their findings suggest that Smac-mimetic compounds could be useful as targeted cancer treatments for lung and other cancers. Such therapy may be less toxic to healthy cells than current compounds used in cancer chemotherapy.
The researchers, led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Xiaodong Wang, published their findings in the November, 2007, issue of the journal Cancer Cell. Wang is at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Cells that are defective or that become unnecessary during growth and development are induced to commit suicide through a finely balanced process known as apoptosis, or programmed cell death. A protein called Smac, which is a shortened version of “second mitochondria-derived activator of apoptosis,” is a part of the cell’s programmed cell death machinery. When that machinery is switched on, Smac is released from the mitochondria and triggers the pathway that kills damaged or abnormal cells. Cancer cells, however, can survive Smac’s death signal by switching off the apoptotic machinery.
To see if they could get around this problem, Wang and other researchers have developed small-molecule mimetics of Smac that can enter the cell and trigger apoptosis. These mimetic molecules do their damage without the need for the Smac signal from the mitochondria. In earlier studies, Wang and his colleagues found that a Smac mimetic that they developed in the lab could kill cancer cells in culture. But they found that the cancer cells are only killed when the mimetic molecule is introduced in conjunction with another component of the apoptotic machinery known as TNFá.
In the new studies published in Cancer Cell, Wang and his colleagues found that a significant percentage of human non-small-cell lung cancer cell lines were sensitive to treatment by the Smac mimetic alone. When the researchers introduced those sensitive cells into mice and allowed them to produce tumors, they found that the Smac mimetic caused the tumors to regress and, in some cases, even disappear.
“These findings made us wonder what it was about these cell lines that made them sensitive to the Smac mimetic alone,” said Wang. “Cancer cells are hard to kill, but these cell lines seemed to have already become sensitized to apoptosis.”
The researchers’ studies revealed that the sensitive cell lines produced their own TNFá, so they were already “primed” for apoptosis. The paradox, said Wang, is that TNFá signaling is also part of a complex pathway that gives cancer cells a “survival” signal, offering them a growth advantage. The researchers also found that some breast cancer and melanoma cell lines were sensitive to the Smac mimetic alone.
“Thus, in these cancer cell lines, the TNFá survival advantage turns out to be a fatal flaw, because the same pathway can be switched to apoptosis by Smac mimetics,” said Wang. “So, for some cancers, we might be able to use Smac mimetics as a single treatment agent. And we can use the presence of TNFá as a marker to tell us which tumors will respond to the Smac mimetic alone.”
“People have been suspecting for a long time that some cancer cells may somehow turn on their apoptotic pathway already,” said Wang. “And now we know what pathway they turn on and why. We can take advantage of this phenomenon for potential cancer therapy by switching a signal into a deadly one with Smac mimetics.”
Jennifer Michalowski | EurekAlert!
Researchers find new mutation in the leptin gene
24.06.2019 | Texas Biomedical Research Institute
Straight to the heart
24.06.2019 | Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft
From June 25th to 27th 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau (Germany) will be presenting a new solution for acoustic quality inspection allowing contact-free, non-destructive testing of manufactured parts and components. The method which has reached Technology Readiness Level 6 already, is currently being successfully tested in practical use together with a number of industrial partners.
Reducing machine downtime, manufacturing defects, and excessive scrap
The quality of additively manufactured components depends not only on the manufacturing process, but also on the inline process control. The process control ensures a reliable coating process because it detects deviations from the target geometry immediately. At LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be demonstrating how well bi-directional sensor technology can already be used for Laser Material Deposition (LMD) in combination with commercial optics at booth A2.431.
Fraunhofer ILT has been developing optical sensor technology specifically for production measurement technology for around 10 years. In particular, its »bd-1«...
The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified
The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...
Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.
Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...
Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.
The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...
24.06.2019 | Event News
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
24.06.2019 | Event News
24.06.2019 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
24.06.2019 | Life Sciences