Navigation Links
Transforming cancer treatment
Date:7/11/2012

A Harvard researcher studying the evolution of drug resistance in cancer is predicting that, in a few decades, "many, many cancers could be manageable."

Martin Nowak, a Harvard Professor of Mathematics and of Biology and Director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, is one of several co-authors of a paper, published in Nature, that details how resistance to targeted drug therapy emerges in colorectal cancers, and suggests a new, multi-drug approach to treatment could make many cancers manageable, if not curable, illnesses.

The key, Nowak's research suggests, is to change the way clinicians battle the disease.

Though physicians and researchers in recent years have increasingly turned to "targeted therapies" new drugs which combat cancer by interrupting its ability to grow and spread rather than traditional chemotherapy, the treatment is far from perfect. Most are only effective for a few months before the cancer evolves resistance to the drugs and is able to grow unchecked.

In the particular colon cancer treatment that was the subject of Nowak's research, the culprit is the KRAS gene. Normally responsible for producing a protein to regulate cell division, when activated, the gene helps cancer cells develop resistance to targeted therapy drugs, effectively making the treatment useless.

Based on analysis completed by Benjamin Allen, a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Mathematical Biology, and Ivana Bozic, a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Mathematics, Nowak's research suggests that, of the billions of cancer cells that exist in a patient, only a tiny percentage about one in a million are resistant to drugs used in targeted therapy. When treatment starts, the non-resistant cells are wiped out. The few resistant cells, however, quickly repopulate the cancer, causing the treatment to fail.

The answer, Nowak argued, is simple rather than the one drug used in targeted therapy, treatments must involve at least two drugs.

Nowak isn't new to such suggestions in 1995, he participated in a study, also published in Nature, that focused on the rapid evolution of drug resistance in HIV. The end result of that study, he said, was the development of the drug "cocktail" many HIV-positive patients use to help manage the disease.

Ultimately, Nowak estimated that hundreds of drugs might be needed to address all the possible treatment variations. The challenge in the near term, he said, is to develop those drugs. Once available, though, he believes the multi-drug approach offers a new avenue for cancer treatment, one that may fundamentally alter how the public views the disease.

"This will be the main avenue for research into cancer treatment, I think, for the next decade and beyond," Nowak said. "As more and more drugs are developed for targeted therapy, I think we will see a revolution in the treatment of cancer."


'/>"/>

Contact: Peter Reuell
preuell@fas.harvard.edu
617-496-8070
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Preclinical studies use specialized ultrasound to detect presence of cancer
2. Cancer Cell article shows first evidence for targeting of Pol I as new approach to cancer therapy
3. Researchers discover molecule in immune system that could help treat dangerous skin cancer
4. Stanford scientists find molecule to starve lung cancer and improve ventilator recovery
5. Tumor microenvironment helps skin cancer cells resist drug treatment
6. Cancer scientists link ‘oncometabolite’ to onset of acute myeloid leukemia
7. The genomics symposium to boost the further development of cancer research
8. Study identifies pathway to enhance usefulness of EGFR inhibitors in lung cancer treatment
9. Regulation of telomerase in stem cells and cancer cells
10. 5th Latin American Conference on Lung Cancer
11. Husband-wife team set out to improve breast cancer exams
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/4/2017)... --  EyeLock LLC , a leader of iris-based identity ... and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued U.S. Patent No. ... iris image with a face image acquired in sequence ... th issued patent. "The issuance ... multi-modal biometric capabilities that have recently come to market ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... March 30, 2017 The research team of ... three-dimensional (3D) fingerprint identification by adopting ground breaking 3D fingerprint minutiae ... realm of speed and accuracy for use in identification, crime investigation, ... cost. ... A research ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... , March 28, 2017 ... Biometrics), Hardware (Camera, Monitors, Servers, Storage Devices), Software (Video ... and Region - Global Forecast to 2022", published by ... in 2016 and is projected to reach USD 75.64 ... 2017 and 2022. The base year considered for the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/22/2017)... ... May 22, 2017 , ... Cancer ... exhibiting in booth B2 at the Association for Pathology Informatics Annual Summit ... In addition to demonstrating its Cancer Diagnostic Cockpit and Consultation Portal, Inspirata will ...
(Date:5/19/2017)... ... May 19, 2017 , ... In response to the strong base ... Medical Systems, Inc. announces the release of their Gait Trainer 3 with an Integrated ... a biomedical system to aid in rehabilitating individuals with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, ...
(Date:5/18/2017)... ... May 18, 2017 , ... Lajollacooks4u has added another option ... two-hour team-building package designed for groups of 10-30 people. Guests can choose ... items, such as Blackened Shrimp with Edamame Salad, Pizza Rolls with Pepperoni and ...
(Date:5/18/2017)... , ... May 17, 2017 ... ... standards with psychonneuroendocrine stress expertise, and further enhances its scientific power by ... Douglas A. Granger, Ph.D., has agreed to join the scientific advisory board. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: