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Breakthrough finds molecules that block previously ‘undruggable’ protein tied to cancer

The findings, which could lead to a new class of cancer drugs, appear in the current issue of ACS Chemical Biology. “These are the first reported small-molecule HuR inhibitors that competitively disrupt HuR-RNA binding and release the RNA, thus blocking HuR function as a tumor-promoting protein,” said Liang Xu, associate professor of molecular biosciences and corresponding author of the paper. The results hold promise for treating a broad array of cancers in people. The researcher said HuR has been detected at high levels in almost every type of cancer tested, including cancers of the colon, prostate, breast, brain, ovaries, pancreas and lung…

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Naproxen plus acid blocking drug shows promise in preventing bladder cancer

A new study suggests there may be ways to reduce these dangerous side effects. Collaborators from the University of Michigan, the National Cancer Institute and the University of Alabama looked at naproxen, which is known to have a lower cardiovascular risk than other NSAIDs. Naproxen, like most NSAIDs and aspirin, does increase the risk for gastric ulcers or bleeding…

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New tool provides maps of protein interactions for 2,800 diseases

Scientists working in the Structural Bioinformatics and Network Biology Lab have included the more than 23,000 documented genetic mutations that affect the function of 2,000 proteins in an open-access web tool, and have positioned them on the map of known interactions between human proteins. dSysMap can be accessed free of charge at http://dsysmap.irbbarcelona.org, and scientists from around the world can add their data in an anonymous manner. Developed entirely at IRB Barcelona, dSysMap (“Disease-mutations Systemic Mapping”) provides molecular details about how mutations in certain proteins alter interactions with other proteins, thus affecting the correct funcion of cellular processes. The tool has explained, for example, why mutations in a single protein can cause two distinct diseases or why mutations in different proteins can trigger the same condition. …

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Could there be a gleevec for brain cancer?

A similar drug might be able to tame some brain cancers, new research from Columbia University Medical Center has shown. A team led by Antonio Iavarone, MD, professor of neurology and of pathology and cell biology, Institute for Cancer Genetics, previously discovered that a fusion of two proteins (present only in cancer cells and different from the two in CML) drives some cases of glioma, a common form of brain cancer. The team’s most recent study, published in Clinical Cancer Research, looked closely at two patients affected by recurrent glioblastoma with the fused proteins, in a first in-human trial of a drug that targets half of the fusion protein. Those patients, the researchers found, responded particularly well to the drug, with clinical improvement and radiological tumor reduction…

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‘Bad luck’ of random mutations plays predominant role in cancer, study shows

“All cancers are caused by a combination of bad luck, the environment and heredity, and we’ve created a model that may help quantify how much of these three factors contribute to cancer development,” says Bert Vogelstein, M.D., the Clayton Professor of Oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, co-director of the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “Cancer-free longevity in people exposed to cancer-causing agents, such as tobacco, is often attributed to their ‘good genes,’ but the truth is that most of them simply had good luck,” adds Vogelstein, who cautions that poor lifestyles can add to the bad luck factor in the development of cancer. The implications of their model range from altering public perception about cancer risk factors to the funding of cancer research, they say. “If two-thirds of cancer incidence across tissues is explained by random DNA mutations that occur when stem cells divide, then changing our lifestyle and habits will be a huge help in preventing certain cancers, but this may not be as effective for a variety of others,” says biomathematician Cristian Tomasetti, Ph.D., an assistant professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health. …

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Important gene interaction defined that drives aggressive brain cancer

In a study recently published in the journal Neuro-Oncology, a team of scientists led by Luni Emdad, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., and Paul B. Fisher, M.Ph., Ph.D., provided the first evidence of an important link between a specific microRNA, miR-184, and a cancer promoting gene, SND1, in the regulation of malignant glioma. miR-184 is known to suppress tumor development by regulating a variety of genes involved in cancer growth, while SND1 has been shown to play a significant role in the development of breast, colon, prostate and liver cancers. Through a variety of preclinical experiments, the team demonstrated that increasing the expression of miR-184 slows the growth and invasive characteristics of glioma cells through direct regulation of SND1. …

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Protein that controls the ‘guardian of the genome’ identified

The researchers study the development of T cells and B cells, which are lymphocytes (or immune cells) that play a central role in protecting our body against infections by viruses, bacteria and other microbial agents. “As these lymphocytes develop, they must learn how to recognize different pathogens in the body,” says Dr. M�r�y, Director of the Hematopoiesis and Cancer research unit at the IRCM. “Part of this process involves the breaking and rearranging of the genes responsible for producing the lymphocyte receptors that recognize these pathogens…

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