Scientists have identified a number of genes in lung cancer cells which, when downregulated, make the cancer cells especially vulnerable to a type of chemotherapy.
The study, reported in April 12, 2007 issue of Nature (Vol. 446, No. 7137, pp. 815-819), highlights a new way to screen for alterations in cancer cells that make them specifically sensitive to therapeutics, so that treatment may leave normal tissue relatively unharmed.
Michael A. White and colleagues used a genome-wide RNA interference screen to identify 87 genes that are involved in the response of cancer cells to paclitaxel. Reducing the expression of a number of these genes sensitizes lung cancer cells to paclitaxel at concentrations 1,000-fold lower than otherwise needed for a significant response. Some of the identified genes are already targets of currently available compounds and could be tested for responses to combinations of drugs, whereas others could be new therapeutic targets.
Michael A. White (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA)
(C) Nature press release.
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