Cancer Therapy More Potent When It Hits Two Targets

By Jason Bardi | February 24, 2012

Cancer Therapy More Potent When It Hits Two Targets

Donald McDonald, MD, PhD

Simultaneous targeting of two different molecules in cancer is an effective way to shrink tumors, block invasion, and stop metastasis, scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have found — work that may improve the effectiveness of combination treatments that include drugs like Avastin.

The two-target approach, tested in mice with a type of cancer known as neuroendocrine pancreatic tumors, may have broad application for treating a wide variety of cancers, the UCSF team said. The drugs used in the tests belong to classes of pharmaceuticals that are either on the market or under development in clinical trials.

Clinical trials also are already underway to gauge effectiveness of the approach in humans with prostate cancer, breast cancer, and other tumor types. The UCSF study, described in the journal Cancer Discovery this week, is the first to show how the drug combination works in the laboratory.

The results are promising, said Donald McDonald, MD, PhD, a member of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Cardiovascular Research Institute and professor of anatomy, who led the research.

In the study, treating mice with the dual-target approach turned aggressive tumors with invasive fingers penetrating surrounding tissues and many metastases into tiny balls with few or no metastases.

“It’s the combination of approaches — there’s a synergy between the two,” McDonald said. “You add two and two, and you get 10.”

Target Proteins Play Role in Malignant Tumors

The two targets are both proteins that scientists have known for years are involved in cancer. Both play important roles in malignant tumors.

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