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NCI Cancer Center News

Vanderbilt develops new method that may allow personalized clinical trial for cancer therapies

  • Posted: August 15, 2012

A new tool to observe cell behavior has revealed surprising clues about how cancer cells respond to therapy – and may offer a way to further refine personalized cancer treatments. The approach, developed by investigators at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, shows that erlotinib – a targeted therapy that acts on a growth factor receptor mutated in some lung, brain and other cancers – doesn’t simply kill tumor cells as was previously assumed. The drug also causes some tumor cells to go into a non-dividing (quiescent) state or to slow down their rate of division. This variability in cell response to the drug may be involved in cancer recurrence and drug resistance, the authors suggest.

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NCI comprehensive cancer centersAmong the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 67 as Cancer Centers. Largely based in research universities, these facilities are home to many of the NCI-supported scientists who conduct a wide range of intense, laboratory research into cancer’s origins and development. The Cancer Centers Program also focuses on trans-disciplinary research, including population science and clinical research. The centers’ research results are often at the forefront of studies in the cancer field.