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Tumor-Targeting Compound Points the Way to New Personalized Cancer Treatments

Posted Dec 03 2011 12:54pm

One major obstacle in the fight against cancer is that anticancer drugs often affect normal cells in addition to tumor cells, resulting in significant side effects. Yet research into development of less harmful treatments geared toward the targeting of specific cancer-causing mechanisms is hampered by lack of knowledge of the molecular pathways that drive cancers in individual patients.

“A major goal of cancer research is to replace chemotherapy with drugs that correct specific molecular pathways disrupted by cancer,” says Dr. Ari Melnick, one of the study’s lead investigators and director of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical and Physical Sciences and associate professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. “But looking for mutations isn’t always the way to find the most important factors that are keeping cancer cells alive.”

Through a collaboration among Weill Cornell Medical College, the Sloan-Kettering Institute at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a team of scientists has now reported that a tumor-targeting compound called PU-H71 can reveal with great accuracy the set of altered pathways that contribute to malignancy. Because the drug specifically binds to abnormal protein complexes in cancer cells, it could lead to the development of more targeted and effective therapies that produce fewer side effects. These findings were recently published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

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