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New understanding of why anti-cancer therapy stops working at a specific stage
Date:6/24/2013

complex biological system.

They found that at a particular level of oxygen starvation (hypoxia) that is common in solid tumors, the mTOR signaling network switches between two sets of properties. At the switching point, the theoretical models predicted that mTOR would be intrinsically unresponsive to drugging.

Furthermore, the combined experiment and theory results indicated that the switch could be interpreted as a type of phase transition, which has not been previously observed in biological systems.

This phase transition is the point of the switch between the two signaling networks and happens very abruptly. The change in signaling means that the body of cells studied no longer responds in the way it did before. In the case of the tumor, the "drugging" of the mTOR ceases, meaning that the tumor is no longer inhibited.

These results have several implications. First, they may explain the poor clinical performance of mTOR inhibitors. Second, they indicate that certain complex biological behaviors, which often confound scientists who are seeking to find effective therapies for human diseases, may be understood by the effective application of experimental and theoretical tools derived from the physical sciences.


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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huni.ac.il
972-258-82904
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert

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