Promising new cancer therapy uses molecular “Trash Man” to exploit a common cancer defense
While many scientists are trying to prevent the onset of a cancer defense mechanism known as autophagy, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center are leveraging it in a new therapy that causes the process to culminate in cell death rather than survival. The novel treatment strategy targets the p62 protein, which is often referred to as the “Trash Man” due to its role in disposing unwanted cellular proteins during autophagy. Results from preclinical experiments suggest this experimental treatment approach could be particularly effective against multiple myeloma and potentially other forms of blood cancers.
Protein found to block benefits of vitamin A cancer therapy
Retinoic acid is a form of vitamin A that is used to treat and help prevent the recurrence of a variety of cancers, but for some patients the drug is not effective. The reason for this resistance was unclear until this week when researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center demonstrated that a protein known as AEG-1 blocks the effects of retinoic acid in leukemia and liver cancer. Because AEG-1 is overexpressed in nearly every cancer, these findings could impact the care of countless cancer patients.
Scientists develop mouse model that could lead to new therapies for liver cancer
Researchers have created the first mouse model demonstrating the role of a cancer promoting gene, Astrocyte elevated gene-1 (AEG-1), in hepatocellular carcinoma, or liver cancer. The mouse model represents a critical step in understanding the molecular mechanisms of liver cancer progression and could lead to novel therapies for the disease.
New link found between inflammation and cancer
Massey Cancer Center researchers have uncovered a new link between chronic inflammation and cancer. Although cancers don't always cause inflammation, chronic inflammation is known to help tumor cells grow. In an article published in the recent June issue of Nature, VCU Massey scientists Sarah Spiegel, Ph.D., and Tomasz Kordula, Ph.D., and their co-authors examine how sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), a lipid mediator in the blood that influences immune cell circulation, also regulates inflammation and cancer. They reported that S1P is a missing cofactor that is required for the activity of TRAF2, the key regulator of NF-kappaB, which acts as a master on-off switch in controlling inflammation and cancer.
VCU Massey discovery could lead to breakthrough for non-small cell lung cancer
Research at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center led by Charles E. Chalfant, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, discovered a previously unknown mechanism in non-small cell lung cancer cells that contributes to their ability to maintain and grow tumors. Narrowing in on this mechanism could provide a breakthrough for the development of effective therapies for NSCLC and other cancers.