"Epigenetic" therapy inactivates a gene that causes cancer

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Last reviewed: 31.05.2018

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11 November 2011, 18:54

"Epigenetic" combination therapy can restore the activity of an anti-cancer gene at a late stage of lung cancer. Scientists have tested a new type of treatment aimed at suppressing the activity of a gene that promotes the growth of cancer cells.

A small clinical study conducted by Johns Hopkins Kimmel from the Cancer Center showed promising results.

The study involved 45 non-small-cell lung cancer patients at a late stage. They received two combinations of drugs, the mechanism of action of which was to activate anticancer genes. Survival of patients undergoing such treatment increased by 2 months, and 2 patients had complete remission of the disease, despite the lack of effect from previous standard methods of therapy.

The results of the study are published in the journal Cancer Discovery.

Treatment of patients was carried out with the help of two drugs - azacitidine and entinostat. The mechanism of action of these drugs is as follows: azacitidine removes methyl groups from the genes, and the entinostat - inhibits the deacetylation of histones. All this contributes to the suppression of the activity of the gene, which promotes the growth of cancer cells.

"We hope that these results will lead to a larger, more in-depth clinical study to study this combination of drugs," says Charles Rudin, MD, a professor of oncology at Kimmel Cancer Center and the head of the project.

This is one of the first studies that showed promising results of "epigenetic" cancer treatment methods.

Jones Hopkins previously used this combination of drugs in patients with leukemia. The results of laboratory tests showed that epigenetic methods of treatment are directed not at direct destruction of cancer cells, but at reprogramming of gene expression so that cancer cells lose their ability to uncontrollable and unrestrained growth.

A normal cell has a certain set of gene expression, in which some genes are in the active state, and some in the inactive state. Violation of this balance often leads to the development of cancer. In cancer cells mutations constantly occur, which makes the treatment with existing drugs ineffective. However, the development of the tumor can be affected by epigenetic suppression of the activity of genes that provoke the development of cancer cells.

It should be noted that epigenetic therapy increased the effect of chemotherapy treatment and made tumors more sensitive to subsequent standard therapies, "says Beilin.

It is important to know!

Professor of Radiology, University of Pennsylvania (USA) Henry Pancost, who described this neoplasm in the first third of the last century, identified it as an apical (apical) tumor of the lung.

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