New Drug Target Area Identified for Untreatable Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is a shocking diagnosis for anyone, made even more so by the sad fact that there are few targeted treatment options and very poor survival rates. New research is indicating, however, that a specialized treatment is possible and that it may be (literally) right under our noses.
The research, undertaken by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICH), The Wellcome Trust and the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), focused on the role of proteins in cancer generation and growth. Hundreds of proteins were tracked and analysed and it was soon discovered that collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body and found in high concentrations in the hair and skin, was doing something previously unidentified. The protein was releasing chemical signals that helped to protect the body from cancer.
It is thought that boosting these signals could be an effective treatment for cancer that grows in the presence of collagen, such as Squamous Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC). SCLC is currently untreatable as no targeted treatments for it exist. Patients are most often told that their disease is untreatable and they will not recover. They are then placed on an intensive course or chemotherapy to try and control the disease for as long as possible. This research brings about the hope that it can be treated, or at least weakened, by collagen therapy. This would be much less intrusive for the patient and supports other research which suggests the key to cancer therapy lies not in heavy doses of radiation or harsh chemicals, but within our own bodies.
The molecule involver, DDR2, was found to release SHP-2 once stimulated with collagen and it is this reaction that leads to the protective benefits of the protein. The research may also make existing cancer therapies ore effective, as it is already know that some leukemia treatments actually “switch off” the DDR2 reaction and could be proving detrimental to treatment.
The research is positive and human trials are expected to begin as early as next year as scientists will need to work out a dosing strategy for the most effective outcome.
To read more about this fascinating research, click here:
Image of SCLC in human lung tissue is provided courtesy of http://pathstudent.com