Investigators with The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network have identified novel genomic and molecular characteristics of cervical cancer that will aid in the sub-classification of the disease and may help target therapies that are most appropriate for each patient. The new study, a comprehensive analysis of the genomes of 178 primary cervical cancers, found that over 70 percent of the tumors had genomic alterations in either one or both of two important cell signaling pathways. The researchers also found, unexpectedly, that a subset of tumors did not show evidence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The study included authors from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), both parts of the National Institutes of Health, and appeared January 23, 2017, in Nature.
Cervical cancer accounts for more than 500,000 new cases of cancer and more than 250,000 deaths each year worldwide. “The vast majority of cases of cervical cancer are caused by persistent infection with oncogenic types of HPV. Effective preventive vaccines against the most oncogenic forms of HPV have been available for a number of years, with vaccination having the long-term potential to reduce the number of cases of cervical cancer,” said NCI Acting Director Douglas Lowy, M.D.
“However, most women who will develop cervical cancer in the next couple of decades are already beyond the recommended age for vaccination and will not be protected by the vaccine,” noted Dr. Lowy. “Therefore, cervical cancer is still a disease in need of effective therapies, and this latest TCGA analysis could help advance efforts to find drugs that target important elements of cervical cancer genomes in addition to the HPV genes.” Continue reading
Posted in Cancer, Womens Health
Tagged Cancer Research, cervical cancer, Douglas Lowy, genetics, Genomic Data, genomics, HPV, HPV-negative tumors, immunotherapy, Jean-Claude Zenklusen, lapatinib, NCI, NHGRI, NIH
In a study of an immune therapy for colorectal cancer that involved a single patient, a team of researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) identified a method for targeting the cancer-causing protein produced by a mutant form of the KRAS gene. This targeted immunotherapy led to cancer regression in the patient in the study. The finding appeared Dec. 8, 2016, in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was led by Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Surgery Branch at NCI’s Center for Cancer Research, and was conducted at the NIH Clinical Center. NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
More than 30 percent of all human cancers are driven by mutations in a family of genes known collectively as RAS, which has three members: KRAS, NRAS, and HRAS. Mutations in the KRAS gene are thought to drive 95 percent of all pancreatic cancers and 45 percent of all colorectal cancers. A mutation called G12D is the most common KRAS mutation and is estimated to occur in more than 50,000 new cases of cancer in the United States each year. Because of their importance in cancer causation, worldwide efforts to successfully target mutant RAS genes are being pursued. Such efforts have met with limited success to date.
In attempting to develop more effective approaches to targeting RAS, Rosenberg’s team isolated tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) that targeted the KRAS G12D mutation from tumor nodules in the patient’s lungs that developed after colorectal cancer cells had spread to the lungs. TILs are white blood cells that migrate from the bloodstream into a tumor. Continue reading