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Nov 30, 2021

Princeton team disables long-targeted gene behind spread of major cancers

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry

The mysterious ways cancer spreads through the body, a process known as metastasis, is what can make it such a difficult enemy to keep at bay. Researchers at Princeton University working in this area have been tugging at a particular thread for more than 15 years, focusing on a single gene central to the ability of most major cancers to metastasize. They’ve now discovered what they describe as a “silver bullet” in the form of a compound that can disable this gene in mice and human tissue, with clinical trials possibly not too far away.

Metastatic cancer is a key focus for researchers and with good reason, as it is actually the primary cause of death from the disease. While surgery or chemotherapy might be effective at eliminating an initial tumor, cells that have broken away can discreetly make their way around the body and give rise to new tumors, months or even years later.

“Metastatic breast cancer causes more than 40,000 deaths every year in the US, and the patients do not respond well to standard treatments, such as chemotherapies, targeted therapies and immunotherapies,” says Minhong Shen, member of the Princeton team behind the new discovery. “Our work identified a series of chemical compounds that could significantly enhance the chemotherapy and immunotherapy response rates in metastatic breast cancer mouse models. These compounds have great therapeutic potential.”

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