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For Personalizing Cancer Therapy, Metabolic Profiles Are Essential
By gdpawel at 2012-02-09 13:12
For Personalizing Cancer Therapy, Metabolic Profiles Are Essential

One way to tackle a tumor is to take aim at the metabolic reactions that fuel their growth. But a report in the February Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press Publication, shows that one metabolism-targeted cancer therapy will not fit all. That means that metabolic profiling will be essential for defining each cancer and choosing the best treatment accordingly, researchers say.

"Cancer research is dominated now by genomics and the hope that genetic fingerprints will allow us to guide therapy," said J. Michael Bishop of the University of California, San Francisco. "The issue is whether that is sufficient. We argue that it isn't because metabolic changes are complex and hard to predict. You may need to have the metabolome as well as the genome."


4 comments | 13145 reads

by gdpawel on Fri, 2012-02-10 02:51
The genomic profile is so complicated, with one thing affecting another, that it isn't sufficient and not currently useful in selecting drugs. Because metabolic changes are complex and hard to predict, metabolic profiling will be essential for selecting best treatment.

In drug selection, molecular (genomic) testing examines a single process within the cell or a relatively small number of processes. The aim is to tell if there is a theoretical predisposition to drug response. It attempts to link surrogate gene expression to a theoretical potential for drug activity.

It relies upon a handful of gene patterns which are thought to imply a potential for drug susceptibility. In other words, molecular testing tells us whether or not the cancer cells are potentially susceptible to a mechanism/pathway of attack.

It doesn't tell you if one targeted drug (or combination of targeted drugs) is better or worse than another targeted drug (or combination) which may target a certain or a small number of mechanisms/pathways.

Functional profile testing doesn't dismiss DNA testing, it uses all the information, both genomic and functional, to design the best targeted treatment for each individual, not populations. It tests for a lot more than just a few mutations.

Functional profiling consists of a combination of a (cell morphology) morphologic endpoint and one or more (cell metabolism) metabolic endpoints. It studies cells in small clusters or micro-spheroids (micro-clusters). The combination of measuring morphologic and metabolic effects at the whole cell level.

The cell is a system, an integrated, interacting network of genes, proteins and other cellular constituents that produce functions. One needs to analyze the systems' response to targeted drug treatments, not just a few targets (pathways).

Source: Cell Function Analysis

Metabolomics is a newly emerging field of "omics" research concerned with the comprehensive characterization of the small molecule metabolites in biological systems. It can provide an overview of the metabolic status and global biochemical events associated with a cellular or biological system.

An increasing focus in metabolomics research is now evident in academia, industry and government, with more than 500 papers a year being published on this subject. Indeed, metabolomics is now part of the vision of the NIH road map initiative (E. Zerhouni (2003) Science 302, 63-64&72).

Many other government bodies are also supporting metabolomics activities internationally. Studying the metabolome (along with other "omes") will highlight changes in networks and pathways and provide insights into physiological and pathological states.

The concept of Systems Biology and the prospect of integrating transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics data is exciting and the integration of these fields continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Developments in informatics, flux analysis and biochemical modeling are adding new dimensions to the field of metabolomics.

To be able to walk from genetic or environmental perturbations to a phenotype to a specific biochemical event is exciting. Metabolomics has the promise to enable detection of disease states and their progression, monitor response to therapy, stratify patients based on biochemical profiles, and highlight targets for drug design.

The metabolomics field builds on a wealth of biochemical information that was established over many years.

Source: The Metabolomics Society

Thomas Seyfried: Cancer: A Metabolic Disease With Metabolic Solutions


by gdpawel on Sat, 2012-02-11 02:04
Researchers say they may have made a science research breakthrough in the fight against cancer by discovering how to keep tumor cells alive in the lab. Up until recently, scientists haven’t been able to keep cells alive in a way where they look and act like they would in the body. Doctors previously had to freeze or set in wax biopsied tissue to make a diagnosis.

Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C. was behind the discovery. Funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense fellowship funding and an internal grant from Georgetown's Lombardi Cancer Center Support Grant from the National Cancer Institute, researchers have filed two patent applications for the new technology.

Doctors hope that this advance might allow them to test numerous cancer-killing drugs on a patient’s own tumor cells in the lab before choosing a therapy that will work well. According to Richard Schlegel, who serves as chairman of the Department of Pathology at Georgetown, the ability to grow true cancer cells could change the way basic science works, too. Cancer cells often accumulate genetic changes in labs, and they no longer resemble the original tumor.

The pioneering new method borrows from a simple method used by stem cell researchers, according to the American Journal of Pathology. The technique combines fibroblast feeder cells and Rho kinase (ROCK) inhibitor, which keep the cells alive and allow them to reproduce, respectively. Digital Journal reports that when both products were used to treat the cancer cells, they and the normal cells reverted to a “stem-like state,” according to Schlegel. This made it possible for researchers to compare both types of living cells, which wasn't an option before the science research breakthrough.

Needless to say, this discovery could have wonderful consequences for patients being treated for cancer. The personalized lab work that will take place before treatment could mean a better chance at being cured.

The 13th Annual BioResearch Product Faire event at Georgetown University is on July 19, 2012.

Science Market Update

Oncologist Robert A. Nagourney, MD, PhD, responds to news from Georgetown University about the use of cancer cell testing in a laboratory environment.


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