New treatment targets cancers with particular genetic signature

November 01, 2015

Oxford University researchers have found the Achilles heel of certain cancer cells - mutations in a gene called SETD2. Their findings will be presented to the National Cancer Research Institute conference in Liverpool this Monday (2 Nov 15).

It is well known that mutations drive cancer cell growth and resistance to treatment. However, these mutations can also become a weak point for a tumour. The Oxford team found that that was the case for cancer cells with mutations in a key cancer gene called SETD2.

Study author, Dr Timothy Humphrey said 'Mutations in SETD2 are frequently found in kidney cancer and some childhood brain tumours, so we were excited when we discovered that a new drug we were studying specifically killed cancer cells with this mutation.'

The presentation will discuss how Dr Humphrey and his team showed that cancer cells with a mutated SETD2 gene were killed by a drug called AZD1775 that inhibits a protein called WEE1. WEE1 was first discovered by British Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse.

The team achieved this by exploiting the concept of 'synthetic lethality', where a combination of two factors kills a cancer cell. This has the potential to be a less toxic and more effective treatment than more standard approaches because it can specifically target cancer cells.

Co-author Dr Andy Ryan said: 'When WEE1 was inhibited in cells with a SETD2 mutation, the levels of deoxynucleotides, the components that make DNA, dropped below the critical level needed for replication. Starved of these building blocks, the cells die. Importantly, normal cells in the body do not have SETD2 mutations, so these effects of WEE1 inhibition are potentially very selective to cancer cells.'

Importantly, the research team, funded by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council, have also developed a biomarker test to identify SETD2 mutated tumours, something that can be used immediately in cancer diagnosis.

Professor Tim Maughan, Clinical Director of the Cancer Research UK/ Medical Research Council Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology, said 'This novel and exciting finding provides a new scientific basis for precision targeting of some cancers which are currently very difficult to treat, and we are now taking these findings into clinical trials.'

While there is still work to do before a treatment is available, the hope is that these findings will help to target other cancers with similar weak points and provide a step towards personalized cancer therapy.
-end-


University of Oxford

Related Cancer Cells Articles from Brightsurf:

Cancer researchers train white blood cells to attacks tumor cells
Scientists at the National Center for Tumor Diseases Dresden (NCT/UCC) and Dresden University Medicine, together with an international team of researchers, were able to demonstrate that certain white blood cells, so-called neutrophil granulocytes, can potentially - after completing a special training program -- be utilized for the treatment of tumors.

New way to target some rapidly dividing cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed
Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the University of Oxford say they have found a new way to kill some multiplying human breast cancer cells by selectively attacking the core of their cell division machinery.

Breast cancer cells use message-carrying vesicles to send oncogenic stimuli to normal cells
According to a Wistar study, breast cancer cells starved for oxygen send out messages that induce oncogenic changes in surrounding normal epithelial cells.

Breast cancer cells turn killer immune cells into allies
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered that breast cancer cells can alter the function of immune cells known as Natural killer (NK) cells so that instead of killing the cancer cells, they facilitate their spread to other parts of the body.

Breast cancer cells can reprogram immune cells to assist in metastasis
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center investigators report they have uncovered a new mechanism by which invasive breast cancer cells evade the immune system to metastasize, or spread, to other areas of the body.

Engineered immune cells recognize, attack human and mouse solid-tumor cancer cells
CAR-T therapy has been used successfully in patients with blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia.

Drug that keeps surface receptors on cancer cells makes them more visible to immune cells
A drug that is already clinically available for the treatment of nausea and psychosis, called prochlorperazine (PCZ), inhibits the internalization of receptors on the surface of tumor cells, thereby increasing the ability of anticancer antibodies to bind to the receptors and mount more effective immune responses.

Engineered bone marrow cells slow growth of prostate and pancreatic cancer cells
In experiments with mice, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center say they have slowed the growth of transplanted human prostate and pancreatic cancer cells by introducing bone marrow cells with a specific gene deletion to induce a novel immune response.

First phase i clinical trial of CRISPR-edited cells for cancer shows cells safe and durable
Following the first US test of CRISPR gene editing in patients with advanced cancer, researchers report these patients experienced no negative side effects and that the engineered T cells persisted in their bodies -- for months.

Zika virus' key into brain cells ID'd, leveraged to block infection and kill cancer cells
Two different UC San Diego research teams identified the same molecule -- αvβ5 integrin -- as Zika virus' key to brain cell entry.

Read More: Cancer Cells News and Cancer Cells Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.