December 21, 2011
Novel Method to Target Cancer
(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Scientists have discovered a new way to target cancer through manipulating a master switch responsible for cancer cell growth. Cancer cells can grow and multiply faster by creating their own blood vessels.
Cancer cells gain the nutrients they need by producing proteins that make blood vessels grow, helping deliver oxygen and sugars to the tumor. These proteins are vascular growth factors like VEGF – the target for the anti-cancer drug Avastin. Making these proteins requires the slotting together of different parts of genes, a process called splicing.
Scientists at UWE Bristol and the University of Bristol discovered that mutations in one specific cancer gene can control how splicing is balanced, allowing a master switch in the cell to be turned on. This master switch of splicing makes cancer cells grow faster, and blood vessels to grow more quickly, as they alter how VEGFs are put together.
In experimental models, the researchers found that by using new drugs that block this master switch they prevented blood vessel growth and stopped the growth of cancers.
"The research clearly demonstrates that it may be possible to block tumour growth by targeting and manipulating alternative splicing in patients, adding to the increasingly wide armoury of potential anti-cancer therapies," Dr Michael Ladomery spearheading the work from UWE Bristol, was quoted as saying.
"This enables us to develop new classes of drugs that target blood vessel growth, in cancer and other diseases like blindness and kidney disease," Professor David Bates, who led the team from the University of Bristol's School of Physiology and Pharmacology, was quoted as saying
SOURCE: Cancer Cell, published online December 2011