New knowledge about basic cancer biology

Merging technological innovations and new knowledge about basic cancer biology, cancer researchers now target specific molecules involved in critical chemical pathways of cancerous cells.

The approach opens the door to more effective drug therapies and treatment strategies, advances that will be the focus of the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics – the premier international meeting featuring novel cancer therapeutics – to be held October 22 to 26 at the Moscone West Convention Center, San Francisco, California.

Each year, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), jointly with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), brings together scientists and other professionals from around the world seeking to share the latest information in this field, otherwise known as molecular targets of cancer.

“We are in the midst of a remarkable period of exploration and experimentation in cancer research, with tools and technologies in place to put into practice what might only have been theory just a few short years ago,” said Sara A. Courtneidge, Ph.D., a co-chairperson on the Scientific Committee for the meeting and professor at The Burnham Institute for Medical Research in La Jolla, California. “This meeting – where researchers can talk face-to-face about the latest information and reports from continuing studies – is a necessary part of the process of scientific discovery.”

More than 3,000 scientists and clinicians – from the laboratories of universities, medical centers and pharmaceutical companies worldwide – are gathering in San Francisco to present and discuss novel cancer research findings. The AACR has selected 24 scientific abstracts for presentation by their authors in five press briefings, each highlighting a critical or emerging area of molecular target research, such as:

  • The promising results of a Phase I trial of a novel antibody against the insulin-like growth factor receptor in patients with advanced solid tumors have prompted researchers based at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center to initiate a Phase II trial.
  • Screening the NCI's vast Natural Products Repository for the next Taxol is a complicated task with innumerable rewards. The National Cancer Institute maintains the world's largest database of natural compounds, representing biologically diverse organisms from across the globe. However, screening these unpurified samples involves complicated chemistry. NCI researchers have used advanced screening techniques to uncover a way of “throwing a monkey wrench” into a cell process responsible for a great percentage of human cancers.
  • Combining therapies to deliver a “one-two punch” against cancer is rapidly coming to fruition in cancer research. Combining approved targeted treatments with other existing and emerging therapies may enhance the effects of the individual treatments, alone. Researchers at the University of Manchester have found, for example, that combining radiotherapy with an inhibitor under development can prevent cancer cells from becoming resistant to radiation.
  • The discovery of new targets for cancer therapeutics, when combined with high-throughput screening techniques, has made it possible for researchers to rapidly develop new drug candidates that might serve as therapies in multiple cancers. Scientists from ARIUS Research have created a novel antibody that effectively “de-cloaks” cancer cells, enabling the immune system to recognize and attack tumors. Likewise, researchers from University College London have identified the first small molecule inhibitors of protein kinase D, a frequently deregulated pathway in many cancers.

The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes nearly 26,000 basic, translational, and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 70 other countries. AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment, and patient care. AACR publishes five major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research ; Clinical Cancer Research ; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics ; Molecular Cancer Research ; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention . Its most recent publication, CR, is a magazine for cancer survivors, patient advocates, their families, physicians, and scientists. It provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship, and advocacy.

The National Cancer Institute, founded in 1971, is the principal United States government agency charged with coordinating the National Cancer Program. It facilitates international cooperation in clinical trials involving U.S. and foreign collaborating institutions.

The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer was organized in 1962 to conduct, develop, coordinate and stimulate laboratory and clinical research in Europe, and to improve the management of cancer and related problems by increasing the survival and quality of life for patients.

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