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An experimental drug blocking the growth of lung cancer

15 August 2012, 13:31

Lung cancer is considered one of the most aggressive. However, the mechanism used by tumor cells for growth and spread throughout the body has not yet been fully understood. And from here a curious therapeutic arsenal and, on the contrary, an excessive amount of undesirable side effects when used.

But it is not all that bad. For example, a scientist led by Manuel Serrano from the CNIO center (Spain) managed to decipher one of the molecular pathways behind the development of a malignant lung tumor. After that, they proposed an experimental drug that could block the growth of lung cancer in mice. The results of this work the Spaniards presented in the journal Cancer Cell.

The Notch protein was identified in 2004 as one of the important oncogenes that play a key role in the development of leukemia. Since then, scientists have struggled to identify the same role of protein in other types of cancer. At the end of the "zero" efforts were successful: it was shown that Notch is also involved in the development of lung and pancreatic cancer.

In the current study, it was possible to identify the molecular pathway by which Notch regulates the proliferation of cells in a malignant lung tumor. As it turned out, the protein cooperates with another well-known oncogene - RAS, a key element in the formation of such tumors.

In addition, a beneficial therapeutic effect was revealed by a special experimental preparation GSI (a gamma-secretase inhibitor) effectively blocking Notch. In experiments, the Spaniards used the services of GM mice, predisposed to human lung cancer (and, of course, they suffer). After 15 days of treatment with GSI, it was found that the tumor stopped progressing. No side effects were observed. In a word, real success at the very first stage.

GSI was developed 15 years ago for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Very soon, however, it became clear that the drug is not able to stop the development of neurodegenerative diseases. But oncologists "fell in love" with him, because during clinical trials it became clear that GSI blocks the protein Notch. And then everything turned. Accumulated worldwide information about the pharmacological and pharmacokinetic properties of GSI allows at any time to begin clinical trials of this substance. And this means that in the very near future one can expect more significant information obtained when testing the drug in humans.

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Medical expert editor

Portnov Alexey Alexandrovich

Education: Kiev National Medical University. A.A. Bogomolets, Specialty - "General Medicine"

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