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New drug target and biomarker for advanced childhood cancer discovered

Scientists announced today that they have discovered a protein produced by advanced childhood cancers that provides a new target for treatments and a new marker for the disease. Separately, researchers reported data on the crystal structures of two kinase proteins implicated in multiple cancers. The data on structure provides valuable information for the design of cancer therapeutics targeted at these proteins. The studies were presented today at the International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics organized by the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), National Cancer Institute (NCI) and European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) in Boston.

Identification of a novel secretory protein specific to neuroblastoma: Abstract 1216

A new protein found only in the cells of neuroblastoma, a common childhood cancer, could provide clues to differentiating between aggressive tumors and those that are more likely to respond to treatment, said Baylor College of Medicine researchers who discovered it.

The gene that codes for the protein, called neuroblastoma-derived secreted protein or NDSP, is most active in severe cases of neuroblastoma, said Dr. Jianhua Yang, assistant professor of pediatrics/hematology and oncology, at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. As such, the protein could provide important information about the recurrence of disease after first treatment, said Dr. Jed Nuchtern, associate professor of pediatrics/surgery at Baylor College of Medicine.

"We know there are some tumor cells left after surgery and chemotherapy because of the high relapse rate," Dr. Nuchtern said. "This gene may make possible a sensitive means of detecting those."

Dr. Yang discovered the gene, a novel structure, during a screening using microarray technology. He subsequently discovered the gene was only expressed in neuroblastoma cells. So far, Dr. Yang has only tested neuroblastoma cell lines
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Contact: Warren Froelich
froelich@aacr.org
215-440-9300
American Association for Cancer Research
19-Nov-2003


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