Author: Wu Qin
Israeli researchers have found a way to deal with cancerous tumors that have developed drug resistance, Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU) reported on Tuesday. The study was conducted by researchers from BGU and the Soroka Medical Center – both located in the southern city of Beer Sheva – and published in the journal JCI Insight.
The researchers were able to suppress a drug-resistant protein found on the wall of head and neck cancer cells, resulting in shrinkage and even disappearance of the tumors.
Head and neck cancer is considered deadly, with low survival rates, while the efficacy of existing treatments is inadequate.
One of the new treatments currently being given to patients is a drug called BYL719, which inhibits a signal transmission pathway in the cells. This pathway, called phosphoinositide 3-kinases (PI3K), is increased in head and neck cancer patients and leads to the rapid progression of the disease.
The first clinical study using the drug indicated an improvement in patients’ condition; however, many of the cancer cells developed drug resistance.
Previous research has shown that resistance to the treatment is caused by the rise of the AXL protein, which is located on the cancer cell’s wall and causes the growth and survival of the cancer cells.
The new study found that suppressing AXL expression through genetic engineering or drug inhibition restored the cancer cells’ susceptibility to the drug and significantly stopped the disease, to the extent of tumor shrinkage and disappearance.
This suppression was also effective in mice with tumors taken from head and neck patients who underwent surgeries at Soroka Medical Center.