Molecular Profiling Informs Ovarian Cancer Therapy
NCI researchers are reporting that ovarian cancer cells with diminished ability to produce asparagine may be susceptible to the drug L-asparaginase (L-ASP), which has been used for more than 30 years to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia. L-ASP metabolizes asparagine in the blood, selectively starving some types of cancer cells that cannot produce enough of the amino acid for their own needs.
Since recent studies have suggested a link between L-ASP activity and asparagine synthetase (ASNS) expression, the research team, led by Dr. John Weinstein, head of the Genomics & Bioinformatics Group (GBG) in NCI's Center for Cancer Research (CCR), analyzed expression of the ASNS gene in the NCI-60 panel of human cancer cell lines. The NCI-60 panel, used by NCI's Developmental Therapeutics Program to screen more than 100,000 compounds and natural products since 1990, is the most extensively profiled set of cancer cells in existence. Five different microarray platforms that GBG and their collaborators used for molecular profiling of the NCI-60 panel revealed a strong relationship between the anticancer activity of L-ASP and low expression of ASNS in ovarian cancer cell lines. Read more
NCCCP Increases Patient Access to Quality Cancer Care
NCI has created an infrastructure of clinical cancer research and cancer care that is unmatched anywhere in the world. The foundation of this successful system is the 61 NCI-designated Cancer Centers, which have been the bedrock of the continual improvements made in prevention, screening, treatment, and palliative care. However, the fact still remains that 85 percent of cancer patients receive their care at the local community level. Given this, if we are to bring the latest scientific advances to the patient, we must continue to develop programs to reach them in the communities where they live.
Cancer is a disease of the aging. This rapidly growing patient population, as well as underserved or disadvantaged populations, need more support in order to access quality care. I agree with Dr. John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society, who has said that access by patients with cancer to state-of-the-art care - to the latest advances in genomics and proteomics - will be a bigger determinant to mortality than any risk factors identified today. It is for this reason that I believe NCI needs to create a new rim of clinical cancer research and care beyond the NCI-designated Cancer Centers Program to build on the superb efforts of these Centers. By virtue of their ability to directly address issues of delivery, many Centers have invested in creating networks of affiliated community cancer programs. Read more