Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Verastem brings CSC target into “sharper” focus

The launch of Verastem, Inc., in Boston last week with the securing of $16 million Series A financing , signals the coming of age of cancer stem cells (CSCs) as a target for solid cancers. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mining aminoacyl tRNA synthases (aaRSs) for anti-angiogenic factors

Aminoacyl tRNA synthases (aaRSs) are ancient catalytic enzymes that catalyze the first step in protein synthesis, transfer of amino acid to its cognate tRNA, something that we learned years ago in Stryer’s Biochemistry.  But, these enzymes are also moonlighting proteins, with alternate splice forms or natural proteolytic fragments, acting as cytokines, angiogenic factors or angiostatic factors. The one that caught my eye was tryptophanyl-tRNA synthase (TrpRS) fragment which is antiangiogenic and is in clinical development for retinal diseases [...][...].

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CTing the risk of dying from lung cancer.

Is CT scan is to lung cancer what Pap smear is to cervical cancer?  Can routine CT-scan screening detect asymptomatic lung cancer and improve the odds of someone being a "lung cancer survivor."  The results of the NCI-sponsored National Lung Screen Trial (NLST) released recently, would like you to believe, yes, it is.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Watchlist: Will nimotuzumab emerge as one of the best-in-class anti-EGFR MAB?

 Nimotuzumab (h-R3mAb, TheraCIM) is an EGFR targeting monoclonal antibody approved for glioma, malignant astrocytomes and squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck in several countries outside US.  Phase II/III studies for FDA approval are ongoing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Understanding resistance to targeted cancer therapies via systems biology

On a good day only a small fraction of patients completely respond to modern cancer therapies targeting defined targets, such as EGFR, VEGFR, etc.  The tumors escape, cancer becomes resistant, not only due to accumulation of mutations in the target, but due to reliance on alternate cancer cell survival pathways.  EGFR signaling network is a good example of various pathways cross-talking with each other, creating redundancies and feedback loops.  Robust alternate survival pathways result in poor prognosis for patients.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Biogen Idec walking away from its cancer franchise. What (new drugs) may be lost in shakeup.

Yesterday's big announcement by Biogen Idec to disinvest itself from its cancer franchise (and shut down San Diego site) got me thinking what else was in the pipeline and preclinical programs which may (probably) never see the light of a doctor's office.  Was there an Avastin-like blockbuster sitting on a shelf somewhere?  Hopefully, some of the programs will be licensed off to someone with deep pockets or belief in it.  It can happen here in San Diego and some star molecules may emerge! [...][...]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Random Finds: A Roadmap of Cancer Systems Biology by Edwin Wang

A Roadmap of Cancer Systems Biology, by Edwin Wang

". . . When an accident occurs on a busy road during rush hour in a big city, such as Montreal or New York, traffic is blocked for a short time. Soon, however, drivers begin to turn around and use alternative roads to reach their destinations. A road map of a city is a web, a collection of intertwined roads that allows for identification of alternative routes. Increasing evidence (see Chapters 4-7) shows that, similar to roads, molecules in cells are also networked. This structure suggests that biochemical pathways are interconnected, which may allow cancer to bypass the effects of a drug. . ." (Read full article at Nature Precedings, 2010, here or click here)