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Scientists report on promising new approaches to induce cancer cell suicide

In cancer, the normal process by which cells die is defective. Researchers are reporting today on three new approaches to activate cancer cells' ability to commit suicide. In one set of studies, scientists employed a series of molecular and gene therapy tricks to convert an angiogenic protein used by tumors to promote their growth into a cancer cell killer. In separate study, scientists used a fragment of genetic material to disable a protein used by many tumor types as an "off switch" to prevent cell death, triggering cancer cell suicide. A third study focused on a novel inhibitor to improve responses to central nervous system tumor therapy. The findings 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.

Antisense inhibition of survivin expression as a cancer therapeutic: Abstract 324

Scientists have inhibited cancer in mice using a synthetic fragment of genetic material to block production of a protein that many tumor types use to survive. Researchers at Eli Lilly and Company reported the studies of the compound, LY2181308, which is directed against a molecular target called survivin.

Survivin belongs to a family of proteins, called Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins, which play a key role in the regulation of apoptosis and cell division. The protein is expressed in a majority of human cancers but not in normal adult tissues, making it a potential target for cancer therapies. LY2181308 is an anti-sense oligonucleotide that potently downregulated survivin expression in human cancer cells derived from lung, colon, breast, prostate, ovary, cervix, skin and brain.

"We believe that the use of antisense molecules against targets such as survivin are a viable option for the treatment and management of cancer patients, ei
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Contact: Warren Froelich
froelich@aacr.org
215-440-9300
American Association for Cancer Research
20-Nov-2003


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