Retinoic acid therapy has been used as a treatment for neuroblastoma, but the drug can also make some neuroblastoma cells resistant to chemotherapy. Because fenretinide, a derivative of retinoic acid, targets a different molecular pathway--one that induces apoptosis, or programmed cell death--in neuroblastoma cells and is well tolerated, there has been interest in using fenretinide to treat neuroblastoma. In a study of fenretinide's activity within neuroblastoma cells, Chris P. F. Redfern, Ph.D., of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England, and colleagues characterize a novel pathway that mediates the fenretinide induction of apoptosis, and suggest that this pathway may be a target for future drug development. In addition, because fenretinide increased the level of a neuroblastoma cell marker--one that is targeted by immunotherapy--it may be able to work in conjunction with immunotherapy agents, the authors write.
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Novel Compound Shows Activity Against Glucose-Deprived Tumors
Versipelostatin, a novel compound isolated from a microorganism, disrupts a stress-related pathway in glucose-deprived cancer cells and inhibits tumor growth in mice, according to a new study.
Tumors can become glucose- and oxygen-deprived when they lack blood vessels, which transport these molecules. Cells deprived of glucose accumulate unfolded proteins, but such cells survive this stress by turning on a special molecular pathway--the unfolded protein response--that protects cells from the harmful effects of unfolded proteins. Researchers have hypothesized that glucose-deprived tumor cells could be killed by disrupting this pathway.