P53 is a tumor suppressor gene that pauses cell division to allow for repair of gene damage, and triggers apoptosis if the damage is not reparable. Loss of p53 is a critical step in the evolution of cancer. Most frequently, p53 is mutated at its DNA binding domain; since p53 is a transcription factor, a diminished ability to bind to DNA significantly disrupts its functioning. Continue reading
The last twenty years has been an unprecedented time in biology – in sequencing the genome and studying the functions of proteins, as well as in unraveling signal transduction pathways, the fundamental biology of normal and diseased cells has been elucidated to a great extent. Although many druggable targets have been identified, it has largely been impossible to target protein-protein interactions (PPI) in drug development. In fact, only ONE drug that targets a PPI has been approved. Continue reading
Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors block the removal of acetyl groups from histone proteins. Since acetylation of histones puts chromatin in a more favorable condition for transcription, HDAC inhibitors maintain this favorable state. HDAC inhibitors have been approved for use in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. They act by sustaining transcription of tumor suppressor genes, which leads to cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Continue reading
A growing understanding of genetic variation both between histologically similar tumors from different patients and within individual tumors themselves is shedding light on the difficulties in treating cancer and developing biomarkers to diagnose it. It has long been known that a single tumor displays differences in morphology, nuclear shape, proliferation, and proportions of constituent cell types. However, these differences may be only be the “tip of the iceberg” as vast genetic and epigenetic variations that underlie them have been discovered between and within tumors. Continue reading
Cancer results from accumulated mutations in the cancer cell’s genome. These mutations can occur spontaneously in any cell throughout an individual’s lifetime, often increasing with age or exposure to carcinogenic or mutagenic compounds. These are called somatic mutations that do not exist in every cell, and cannot be passed along from one generation to the next. However, in approximately 5 to 10% of all cancer cases, mutations are passed along through the germ line and can predispose an individual to various types of cancers. Continue reading
OncoMed is developing several compounds that target Wnt and Notch pathways, which are important in cancer and cancer stem cell maintenance, survival, and proliferation. Biomarkers for response of Her-2-negative breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) following treatment with Vantictumab, anti-Wnt monoclonal antibody, have been developed. Continue reading
Question: How do you turn aggressive breast, lung, and bladder cancer cells back into benign cells?
Answer: microRNAi’s. Continue reading