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Targeting tumor behavior may lead to new liver cancer drugs
Date:6/18/2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio State University cancer researchers have used computational and genomic methods to identify possible anti-cancer agents that may block a particular kind of tumor behavior. The agents target multiple genes associated with that behavior at one time.

The researchers wanted to find agents that might reverse the gene changes associated with invasive liver cancer and perhaps stop liver tumors from spreading in the body. Such therapy could greatly improve patient survival, the researchers say.

The findings are published online in the journal Cancer.

"This is an exciting new way to find potentially useful anti-cancer agents," says principal investigator Dr. Tushar Patel, director of hepatology and a researcher with Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

"For nearly two decades, cancer drug discovery has sought agents that block a single molecular target or pathway," he says. "Our approach identifies agents that could potentially block tumor progression by striking multiple genes that are associated with a particular cancer-related behavior."

New drugs for liver cancer are needed because the disease is widespread worldwide. The most common type of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, causes 630,000 deaths every year worldwide, and the incidence is rising in many countries, including the United States.

Only one drug is presently approved for treating advanced liver cancer, Patel says. He notes that several new agents are in development for the disease, but each affects just one or another of the many processes that are altered in liver cancer cells.

"We believe that targeting a certain type of tumor behavior might be helpful for liver cancer because many different biochemical pathways in tumor cells can be involved. Most targeted agents affect only one pathway, so a combination of drugs may be needed. Alternatively, new age
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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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