One of the most frustrating truths about cancer is that even when a treatment works, it often doesn’t work for long because cancer cells find ways to resist. However, researchers reporting studies done in mice in the December 11, 2012, issue of Cancer Cell, a Cell Press publication, may have a way to stay one step ahead in the case of aggressive metastatic breast cancer.
The findings emphasize the importance of basic cancer biology for advancing treatments that are more effective and less toxic, the researchers say.
"We need to gain a better understanding of the wiring diagram of cancer cells in order to anticipate resistance mechanisms and plan the right combination therapies," says Mohamed Bentires-Alj of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Switzerland. "Moreover, we need to better understand how cancer progresses to metastases."
After all, the spreading of cancer through metastasis is responsible for most cancer-related deaths.
In the new study, Bentires-Alj and his colleagues examined cancer cell lines and primary breast tumors to see what happens when those cancers are treated with a new type of therapy that targets the so-called PI3K pathway.
"The PI3K pathway is frequently mutated and activated in several human cancers where it plays a key role in tumor development and maintenance as well as in resistance to therapy," Bentires-Alj says, which explains why clinical trials evaluating some 26 PI3K inhibitors are now underway.
While those inhibitors are promising, there is some bad news, as the new work shows. When triple-negative breast tumors are hit with PI3K inhibitors, cancer cells begin to produce a chemical that ramps up a second cancer pathway (JAK2/STAT5)—one that encourages the cancer to spread.
Now for the good news: when the researchers treated mice with an aggressive form of breast cancer with drugs to block both PI3K and JAK2/STAT5 pathways, their tumors grew more slowly, spread less readily, and, ultimately, the animals lived longer.
If Bentires-Alj has his way, the findings in mice will lead to clinical trials in the patients who are most likely to benefit: those with particularly aggressive, triple-negative breast cancers.
"We are in the era of personalized medicine," he says. "We hope that this combination therapy will be tested in clinical trials and that the right patients will be selected for these studies."
Britschgi et al.: "JAK2/STAT5 Inhibition Circumvents Resistance to PI3K/mTOR Blockade, Providing a Rationale for Co-targeting these Pathways in Metastatic Breast Cancer."
Cell Press: http://www.cellpress.com
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
A Mirror Online report on a breast cancer patient who refused medical treatment for so-called natural alternatives ignores the health risks
From Adam and Eve to Snakes on a Plane, legend and pop culture confirms all that slithers is just a little bit creepy. Andrew McGibbon has made it his mission to change people’s minds, highlighting snakes’ beauty and elegance in his series Slitherstition.
Just a rash? Not if you have eczema. People with eczema often have a hard time finding appropriate health care and are apt to miss work dealing with the chronic skin problem, a study finds.
The technique aims to rejuvenate a woman's eggs using mitochondria from cells extracted from her ovaries. A Toronto clinic's first births are due soon, and some doctors are worried about side effects.
Findings published in The Lancet show chance of heart attack drops by 48% when people most at risk take cholesterol-lowering medications
Paranoid fears are common and have a variety of causes but new research shows specific issue cognitive behaviour therapy can bring significant benefits
Popular belief has it that human ‘sex pheromones’ exist and are well-established by the scientific community. But all is not as it seems, as Tristram Wyatt explains
Toward the end of World War II, the Nazis blocked all food and fuel supplies to the Netherlands, leading to famine. Many babies born during this famine suffered long-term effects, including a higher incidence of a variety of conditions such as heart disease, obesity, glucose intolerance, and obstructed airways.
Your girlfriend is right. Adults can expect to get flu only twice every 10 years, suggests an analysis of the antibodies in people's blood
Drinking a few cups of coffee a day may help people avoid clogged arteries - a known risk factor for heart disease - South Korean researchers believe.