Biology of Cancer - Cancer Currents Blog
Cancer biology research news, with context from experts at NCI and elsewhere. Topics include cancer metastasis, the tumor microenvironment, and new targets for cancer therapies.
- Researchers Turn On PTEN Tumor-Suppressor Protein in Cancer Cells
Researchers have discovered a potential way to turn on one of the most commonly silenced tumor-suppressor proteins in cancer, called PTEN. They also found a natural compound, I3C, that in lab studies could flip the on switch.
- Studying Genes and Proteins Together Sheds New Light on Colon Cancer
Using novel proteogenomic techniques, scientists from NCI’s Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium have uncovered new features of colon cancer that may guide new treatment strategies.
- New Drugs, New Side Effects: Complications of Cancer Immunotherapy
The expanding use of cancer immunotherapy has revealed a variety of side effects associated with this treatment approach. Researchers are now trying to better understand how and why these side effects occur and develop strategies for better managing them.
- Researchers Discover Potential Way to Hit Elusive Target in Pancreatic Cancer
Three research groups have found a potential way to kill cancer cells in pancreatic tumors by simultaneously blocking the activity of proteins that interact with KRAS proteins and disrupting an energy-creating process called autophagy.
- Bone Marrow Transplant Drug May Improve Immunotherapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer
The build-up of connective tissue around some types of cancer can act as a barrier to immunotherapy. A new study uses a bone marrow transplant drug, plerixafor, to break down this barrier and improve the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors in animal models of breast cancer.
- Dormant Tumor Cells Can Be Sensitized to Chemotherapy
A new study in mice shows that disrupting the relationship between breast cancer cells that spread to bone and normal cells surrounding them makes the cancer cells sensitive to treatment.
- HTAN: Mapping Tumors across Space and Time Using Cutting-Edge Technologies
The Human Tumor Atlas Network, an NCI-led collaborative research project, is creating detailed maps of cancers that will be used to learn how cancer develops, spreads, and responds to treatment.
- Curbing Production of Immune Checkpoint Protein Slows Liver Cancer in Mice
Researchers have found an unconventional way to unleash the immune system against liver cancer in mice. The researchers used an investigational drug to curb the production of a checkpoint inhibitor protein that shields tumors from the immune system.
- Glioblastoma Study Highlights Sex Differences in Brain Cancer
Men and women with glioblastoma appear to respond differently to standard treatment. A new study identifies biological factors that might contribute to this sex difference.
- For Early-Stage Lung Cancer, Study Identifies Potential New Biomarker, Treatment Target
A new study has identified a potential biomarker of early-stage non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The biomarker, the study’s leaders said, could help diagnose precancerous lung growths and early-stage lung cancers noninvasively and distinguish them from noncancerous growths.
- Drug Combination May Target the Unique Metabolism of Leukemia Stem Cells
Two new studies show how the drugs venetoclax (Venclexta) and azacitidine (Vidaza) team up to block the unique metabolism of leukemia stem cells and may explain why the drug combination is effective against acute myeloid leukemia.
- Appendix Cancers Are Genetically Distinct from Other Gastrointestinal Cancers, Study Shows
The largest-ever study of DNA changes in appendix cancer shows that it is distinct from colorectal and other gastrointestinal cancers and suggests that specific mutations in appendix tumors may help predict whether they may be aggressive.
- Exosomes May Help Tumors Evade Immune System
A new study has identified what may be an important and previously unknown route by which tumors evade the immune system: They secrete small membrane-encased sacs, called exosomes, studded with a protein that dials down the immune response.
- Two Drugs Work Together to Block ‘Master Regulator’ of Breast, Other Cancers
Arsenic trioxide and retinoic acid work together to target the master regulator protein Pin1, a new study shows. In cancer cell lines and mice, the drug combination slowed the growth of triple-negative breast cancer tumors.
- High-Fat Diet or Diabetes Drug May Enhance Response to Targeted Cancer Drug
A study in mice may have identified a way to help overcome resistance to targeted cancer drugs known as PI3K inhibitors. The approach appears to work by reducing insulin levels in patients receiving these drugs.
- OncoArray Links Dozens of DNA Variants to Risk for Common Cancers
Researchers with the NCI-supported GAME-ON initiative and OncoArray Network are publishing studies identifying dozens of new genetic variants associated with the risk for developing some of the most common cancers.
- Can Immunotherapy Succeed in Glioblastoma?
Despite continued efforts to develop new therapies for glioblastoma, none have been able to improve how long patients live appreciably. Despite some setbacks, researchers are hopeful that immunotherapy might be able to succeed where other therapies have not.
- Molecular Switch Links High-Fat Diet to Prostate Cancer Metastasis
A new study in mice has revealed a molecular link between a high-fat diet and the growth and spread of prostate cancer. The findings, the study leaders believe, raise the possibility that changes in diet could potentially improve treatment outcomes in some men.
- New Cancer Treatment Approach Targets Circadian Clock
Two compounds that target components of the circadian clock killed several types of cancer cells in the lab and slowed the growth of brain tumors in mice without harming healthy cells, a new study showed.
- Gut Bacteria Influence Effectiveness of a Type of Immunotherapy
Using mouse models of cancer, researchers found that altering the gut microbiome could affect whether tumors responded to checkpoint inhibition.
- TARGET Study Finds Major Differences between Childhood and Adult AML
An NCI-funded study has found significant differences in the genetics of acute myeloid leukemia in younger and older patients. The findings could help guide the development of treatments tailored specifically for childhood AML.
- The Challenging Landscape of Cancer and Aging: Charting a Way Forward
NCI Director Dr. Norman Sharpless discusses research on aging and cancer, including understanding the biology of aging and its relationship to cancer, the treatment of older patients, and ensuring older patients participate in cancer clinical trials.
- Study Finds Biological Differences in Lung Tumors of African Americans and Whites
Patterns of gene expression may be different in the tumors of some African Americans than in those of whites, a new study has found, and these biological differences may contribute to racial disparities in lung cancer.
- Fusobacterium May Help Colorectal Cancer Grow and Spread
Fusobacterium, found in the stomach and intestines, may help fuel the growth of colorectal cancer and metastases. In a mouse model of colorectal cancer, using antibiotics to kill these bacteria slowed tumor growth.
- With Advances in Cancer Immunotherapy, Scientists Discuss Need to Develop New Mouse Models
A recent NCI symposium focused on developing new and better mouse models for testing treatments that harness the immune system against cancer.
- Fat Cells May Hinder Effectiveness of Chemotherapy
Researchers have shown that fat cells can absorb two commonly used chemotherapy drugs and break them down chemically into a less toxic form, potentially reducing the drugs’ effectiveness.
- Many Ovarian Cancers May Start in Fallopian Tubes, Study Finds
A new study provides more evidence that the most common form of ovarian cancer may originate in the fallopian tubes, and that there is a window of nearly 7 years between development of fallopian tube lesions and the start of ovarian cancer.
- Alternate Driver of Treatment-Resistant Prostate Cancer Identified
Researchers have identified an emerging subtype of metastatic prostate cancer that is resistant to therapies that block hormones that fuel the disease.
- Study Tracks the Evolution of Treatment Resistance in Metastatic Breast Cancer
A new study suggests that the cells in treatment-resistant tumors in women with metastatic breast cancer share important characteristics that could potentially make tumors vulnerable to therapies that otherwise might not have been considered.
- Levels of Immune Cells within Ovarian Tumors Linked to Survival for Some Patients
A large international study suggests that the presence of certain immune cells within the tumors of some patients with ovarian cancer are associated with improved survival.
- Study Uses Open Data to Analyze “Normal” Tissue Near Tumors
The tissue immediately surrounding a tumor may not be normal, even if it appears normal under the microscope, according to an analysis of data from two genomic databases.
- Study Identifies Crucial Characteristic of High-Risk HPV
By comparing the genomes of women infected with a high-risk type of human papillomavirus (HPV), researchers have found that a precise DNA sequence of a viral gene is associated with cervical cancer.
- Timing and Sequence Critical for Immunotherapy Combination
When given at the same time, two immune checkpoint inhibitors were ineffective against breast cancer growth in mice, a new study found. The combination was more effective and safer if the two inhibitors were given in a specific sequence.
- Study Uncovers Previously Unrecognized Effect of Chemotherapy
A new study conducted primarily in mice suggests that chemotherapy given before surgery for breast cancer can cause changes in cells in and around the tumor that are tied to an increased risk of the cancer spreading to other areas of the body.
- Cancer Researchers Report Progress in Studying Exceptional Responders
Researchers who study exceptional responders—patients who have dramatic and long-lasting responses to treatments for cancer that were not effective for most similar patients—met recently to discuss the state of the science in this emerging field.
- Genomic Study Seeks Clues to Help Explain Breast Cancer Disparities
Using one of the largest collections of tumor samples from African Americans with breast cancer, researchers tried to assess the extent to which the molecular characteristics on these tumors might help to explain breast cancer disparities.
- PARP Inhibitors May Be Effective in Brain, Other Cancers with IDH Mutations
Studies presented at the 2017 AACR annual meeting suggest that therapies which take advantage of the mutations in the IDH gene may be more effective than drugs that block it.
- Studies Identify Potential Treatment Strategies for Pediatric DIPG Brain Tumors
Two studies have identified proteins that drive growth of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) tumor cells. Blocking these targets with investigational drugs slowed tumor growth in animal models.
- Conditional Reprogramming: An Interview with Dr. Richard Schlegel on Growing Cancer Cells
Dr. Richard Schlegel describes an innovative cell culture technique he helped to develop. Called conditional reprogramming, the technique can be used to rapidly establish cell cultures of normal and tumor cells from patient samples.
- Potential New Cancer Therapy Could Target Tumors Two Ways
A team of researchers has developed a potential new therapy that may work in two distinct ways to attack tumors, by directly killing cancer cells and immune cells that can suppress the anti-cancer immune response.
- Genome Study Points to New Subtypes of Esophageal Cancer
A new study by The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network could help classify esophageal cancers according to their genetic and molecular alterations and identify potential new treatment options.
- New Mouse Model Closely Mimics Most Common Leukemia in Infants
Researchers have created a long-sought-after mouse model for an aggressive form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia that occurs commonly in infants and that the researchers believe can accelerate the development of new therapies for the disease.
- Brain Cancer’s Cholesterol Addiction May Offer New Treatment Strategy
Brain cancer cells are heavily dependent on a constant supply of cholesterol to survive, a new study suggests. And in mice with brain tumors, treatment with a cholesterol-depleting drug slowed tumor growth and improved survival.
- Single Tumor Cells Reveal Clues to Biology of Multiple Myeloma
A study suggests that individual tumor cells circulating in the blood of patients with multiple myeloma may be a new source of information about the genetic changes driving the disease.
- Scientists Identify Potential Marker of Resistance to PARP Inhibitors
Findings from a new study from NCI researchers could help predict whether a tumor will respond to a new class of promising cancer drugs, and identifies a potential way to overcome that resistance.
- ‘Unexpected’ Vulnerability Creates Treatment Opportunity in Aggressive Type of Lung Cancer
A new study has identified a potentially critical vulnerability in lung cancers that have mutations in the KRAS gene, and showed that a drug already under study may be able to exploit it.
- DINO RNA Molecule Triggers Anticancer Response in Damaged Cells
Studies in cells and mice found that, in cells with damaged DNA, a noncoding RNA called DINO stabilizes the p53 protein and guides the cells into cell death, preventing tumor development.
- Metabolomics Study Reveals another Energy Source for Cancer Cells
Researchers have found that cancer cells can use the compound lactate to fuel biochemical reactions and to generate other compounds they need for growth and survival.
- Studies Highlight Potential of Targeting HIF-2 in Kidney Cancer
Two new studies suggest that a new class of drugs can effectively target a molecular driver of the most common type of kidney cancer.