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Bioinformatics approach helps researchers find new uses for old drug
Date:5/5/2014

BOSTON -- Developing and testing a new anti-cancer drug can cost billions of dollars and take many years of research. Finding an effective anti-cancer medication from the pool of drugs already approved for the treatment of other medical conditions could cut a considerable amount of time and money from the process.

Now, using a novel bioinformatics approach, a team led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has found that the approved antimicrobial drug pentamidine may help in the treatment of patients with advanced kidney cancer. Described online in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, the discovery reveals how linking cancer gene expression patterns with drug activity might help advance cancer care.

"The strategy of repurposing drugs that are currently being used for other indications is of significant interest to the medical community as well as the pharmaceutical and biotech industries," says senior author Towia Libermann, PhD, Director of the Genomics, Proteomics, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Center at BIDMC and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Our results demonstrate that bioinformatics approaches involving the analysis and matching of cancer and drug gene signatures can indeed help us identify new candidate cancer therapeutics."

Renal cell cancer consists of multiple subtypes that are likely caused by different genetic mutations. Over the years, Libermann has been working to identify new disease markers and therapeutic targets through gene expression signatures of renal cell cancer that distinguish these different cancer subtypes from each other, as well as from healthy individuals. In this new paper, he and his colleagues were looking for drugs that might be effective against clear cell renal cancer, the most common and highly malignant subtype of kidney cancer. Although patients with early stage disease can often be successfully treated through surgery,
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Contact: Bonnie Prescott
bprescot@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7306
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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