Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dogs Teaching Us a Thing or Two About Cancer Biology

The German shepherd standing on my front lawn, and his friends in the neighborhood, the rottweiler, the maltese, the shih tzus, the husky, and the other exotic breeds, have one thing in common: Like humans, they are living into their golden ages, and are increasingly showing up with diseases of old age, including cancer. Dogs once past the age of 10 years have a 50% chance of developing any type of cancer. (A 10 year old dog, depending on the breed, is same age as a 55-65 year old man.) 

All types of cancers seen in humans also show up in dogs. For example, take breast cancer: Like women, female dogs (those not neutered, or are at a breeder) also come down with breast cancer, generally called mammary cancer in dogs.

Further, not only the biology of cancer is similar in dogs and man, the dogs also respond to same cancer drugs that are used for humans.

Comparative Oncology

On March 31st, 2014, The New York Times profiled the Penn Vet Shelter Canine Mammary Tumor Program on its website. This innovative program, run by Dr Karin Sorenimo, the Professor of Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania, takes in shelter dogs for cancer treatment and care; the dogs in turn help advance research into the biology of cancer by ways that are impossible to do in humans.

Charity of the Month: American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation


American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation promotes health and well-being of all dogs by supporting research in canine diseases and dissemination of canine health information.

The Foundation embraces the OneHealth model by supporting medical, physical, and social well-being of dogs and their owners. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Smoking is Down in the US and that's a Good Thing

A clip from the shows 2 graphs: one from the Surgeon-General's report that came out in 1964 that "smoking kills," and the other follows smoking behavior in US over the last century. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cancer Drugs Losing Out: Pruning the Branches, Not Cutting the Trees

An oncologist puts the cancer patient on a targeted therapy, the cancer goes away, patient goes home. But, 6 months later, the cancer is back (relapsed) and is aggressive stage IV. Biologically, the cancer cells have mutated to bypass/ignore the expensive targeted therapy.

At the molecular level, the cancer cells are constantly mutating, evolving, and generating diversity. This phenomenon of cancer evolution is central to cancer relapse, tumor escape and therapeutic failure.

New research from the Institute of Cancer Research, UK, shows extreme diversity of cancer cell types in leukemia patients: multiple cancers within a cancer. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Using canSAR Database to Learn About Cancer Drugs and Targets

Imagine that you heard about a groundbreaking hot new cancer drug on the evening news. And you are curious, and you want to find more about this drug. Where would you turn to? Google? 

Among the search engine hits will be a press release from the company and a multitude of news commentaries and blogposts, all various incarnations of the press release itself. These sources will have a summary of the best results from the Phase 3 clinical trial, promising (maybe self-congratulatory) statements from the CEO or CMO of the company, a paragraph on safety signals and usual disclaimers.

But what if you actually want to know more about the drug target, its biology, chemistry, structural biology, pharmacology, bioactivity (and experimental models) and all kinds of apparently boring (to the investment community) scientific data. 

This "mundane" data is generally scattered in journal articles, conferences abstracts and posters, and patent filings. Now there is an easier way to get a snapshot of this data: via a public database canSAR.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Common Mutations Drive 12 Different Cancer Types

Cancer types from leukemia to breast cancer, and bladder cancer to lung cancer are all driven by a common set of genes containing driver mutations. Researchers from The Cancer Genome Network (TCGN) sequenced and analyzed genomes of 3,281 tumors from 12 different cancer types and discovered 127 genes that were involved in the initiation or progression of these cancers. This research appears in the October 17, 2013, issue of the journal Nature

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cancer Meetings and Conferences 2013 (Archived)

Archived list below.
***For upcoming meetings list, go to page 

How does ARIAD's Ponatinib (Iclusig) Work

Mechanism of Action Series: Ponatinib

Ariad Pharmaceuticals' leukemia drug ponatinib has been in the news lately for major toxicity fears that can potentially derail its further clinical development. While these issues will be sorted out in coming months, it's a good time to review how does this drug work.

Ponatinib is a pan-inhibitor of native and T315I mutant forms of BCR-ABL kinase.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Effect of US Congressional Tantrums on Science

Here is one snapshot of what their childish behavior can do. (Let's hope the next generation of congressmen and congresswomen are smarter than this bunch.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How Does AR Antagonist ARN-509 Work

Mechanism of Action Series: ARN 509

ARN-509 is an androgen receptor signaling inhibitor currently in phase 2 clinical trial for castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC).  How does ARN-509 work to block prostate cancer cells is described below.