Scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston have uncovered important molecular and genetic keys to the development of soft-tissue sarcomas in skeletal muscle, giving researchers and clinicians additional targets to stop the growth of these often deadly tumors.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study identified two major molecular signaling pathways (the Ras and mTOR pathways) that are common in tumor growth and development. These molecular pathways regulate cell growth and division, two cellular properties whose over-activation are hallmarks of cancer biology.
"In humans, some sarcomas respond to chemotherapy," says lead author Amy J. Wagers, PhD, an associate professor of stem cell and regenerative biology at Harvard Medical School and Joslin Diabetes Center, "but many don't. With these findings, we have vetted a list of new candidate targets whose inhibition may lead to regression of these tumors. "
Many soft-tissue sarcomas, which develop in certain tissues such as bone and muscle, carry specific genetic mutations or unique gene signatures, which can allow scientists to develop more precise, targeted therapies. Wagers and her colleagues engineered a tumor system in mice by introducing into mouse skeletal muscle a cancer-carrying gene, or oncogene, known to cause tumors in humans. They used this engineered system to identify a small set of genes that are active in sarcoma tumors.
There are many different types of soft-tissue sarcomas, which develop in tissues that connect, support or surround other structures and organs, including muscle, tendons, nerves, fat and blood vessels. If diagnosed early, treatment, primarily through surgical removal of the tumor, radiation therapy or chemotherapy, can be effective. If the tumor has spread, however, the tumor can be controlled only for a period of time, but treatment does not often cure the disease.
By inducing these tumors in mice, Wagers says the scientists knew when the tumors would form in the mice and where in the body they would develop, which helped them better understand the molecular and genetic pathways underlying the disease. With this knowledge, researchers may be able to develop new intervention strategies that interfere with these genetic activities and stop the growth of this type of tumor.
"With the engineered system we developed, we can find new fragile points in the tumor to target," says first author Simone Hettmer, MD, a pediatric oncologist at the Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Center, who treats children with these tumors. In addition, she adds, the system allows scientists to look at the genetic changes in sarcomas and how they interact with the development of tumors and can be applied to sarcomas in tissues other than skeletal muscle.
Surprisingly, says Wagers, the researchers found they could induce tumors using several different "beginning" cells. The scientists generated tumor cells using stem cell-like cells that go on to make either muscle or other connective tissues. Tumors that develop from muscle cells were rhabdomyosarcomas, the most common form of soft-tissue sarcoma seen in children, while tumors that developed from non-muscle cells represented other types of sarcoma.
Wagers and her colleagues are now working on establishing a similar engineered model using human cells to test the effectiveness of anti-sarcoma medications. These preclinical experiments are designed to identify the most promising candidates for the treatment of soft-tissue sarcoma that ultimately will be pursued in human clinical trials. Early studies have identified several chemical compounds that, in cell cultures at least, appear to slow the growth of sarcoma cells.
In addition to Wagers and Hettmer, other Joslin co-authors of the study were Jianing Liu, Christine Miller, and Melissa Lindsay, as well as Cynthia Sparks and David Guertin of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Roderick Bronson of the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, and David Langenau of Massachusetts General Hospital.
About Joslin Diabetes Center
Joslin Diabetes Center is the world's preeminent diabetes research and clinical care organization. Joslin is dedicated to ensuring that people with diabetes live long, healthy lives and offers real hope and progress toward diabetes prevention and a cure. Joslin is an independent, nonprofit institution affiliated with Harvard Medical School. For more information about Joslin, visit www.joslin.org. Keep up with Joslin research and clinical news at Inside Joslin at www.joslin.org/news/inside_joslin.html, Become a fan of Joslin on Facebook at www.facebook.com/joslindiabetes and follow Joslin on Twitter at www.twitter.com/joslindiabetes
Jeffrey Bright | EurekAlert!
Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY
NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts
18.07.2018 | New York Stem Cell Foundation
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences