When a cell's 'fingerprint' can be a weapon against cancer

A research team led by Nuno Barbosa Morais, group leader at Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes (iMM) in Lisbon, computationally analysed the expression of marker genes that are associated with a "fingerprint" of cancer cells in thousands of tumors and revealed its therapeutic potential in the fight against cancer. The study published in the scientific journal PLoS Computational Biology shows the types of tumors in which these genes are most active and identifies drugs with the potential to selectively eliminate cells that carry that label.

The centrosome is an organelle present in all animal cells that is fundamental in several cellular processes, such as division, migration and communication between cells. For more than a century it has been proposed that the abnormal increase in the number of these structures could induce cancer and since then, the increase in the number of centrosomes is seen as one of the hallmarks of cancer cells and is the subject of the scientists' attention. The technical difficulties in characterising this abnormality in patient samples have prevented its clinical potential and being explored on a large scale. To bypass this, the team led by Nuno Barbosa Morais at iMM looked at the expression of genes that cause this increase and analysed its incidence in thousands of tumors of different types of cancer and in normal tissue samples from the same patients. "The results revealed that this signature is present only in tumor samples and is more prevalent in aggressive forms of cancer," explains Nuno Barbosa Morais, adding "more importantly, a higher expression of these genes is associated with a lower survival rate in different types of cancer. "

Using drug sensitivity studies, the scientists also identified selective compounds for cells with this abnormality that could be targeted specifically against cancer cells, not affecting the healthy cells of patients. "Additionally, the samples that we have analysed are now characterised at the levels of their DNA sequence and the expression of thousands of genes. This means that the integration of this data allows us to better understand the causes and molecular consequences of this increase of centrosomes in our cells", explains Bernardo de Almeida, the first author of this study.

"The next steps are now to translate the expression data of the genes that cause this "fingerprint" into support information for clinical decision. We also intend to validate the efficacy of the drugs identified by our computational approach as having greater therapeutic potential. These are studies that will naturally involve collaborations with colleagues who are specialists in clinical oncology and pharmacology", says Nuno Barbosa Morais, group leader and supervisor of the study.

Bernardo P de Almeida, André F Vieira, Joana Paredes, Mónica Bettencourt-Dias, Nuno L Barbosa-Morais.
Pan-cancer association of a centrosome amplification gene expression signature with genomic alterations and clinical outcome.
PLOS, March 11, 2019. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006832.

Most Popular Now

Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ono Pharmaceutical…

Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY) and Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. ("Ono") announced today the three companies have entered into a clinical collaboration ag...

Amgen and Allergan's MVASI™ (bevacizumab-awwb) and…

Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Allergan plc (NYSE:AGN) announced that MVASI™ (bevacizumab-awwb), a biosimilar to Avastin® (bevacizumab), and KANJINTITM (trastuzumab-anns), a bio...

Compound found in red wine opens door for new trea…

Like to unwind with a glass of red wine after a stressful day? Don't give alcohol all the credit. New research has revealed that the plant compound resveratrol, which is ...

HIV vaccine nears clinical trial following new fin…

A promising vaccine that clears an HIV-like virus from monkeys is closer to human testing after a new, weakened version of the vaccine has been shown to provide similar p...

Mylan and Upjohn, a division of Pfizer, to combine…

HERTFORDSHIRE, England & PITTSBURGH & Mylan N.V. (Nasdaq: MYL) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) today announced a definitive agreement to combine Mylan with Upjohn, Pfizer's o...

Leading oncologists and nutritionists pinpoint are…

An international collaborative led by Ludwig Cancer Research and Cancer Research UK has identified key areas that are central to uncovering the complex relationship betwe...

Closing the door: breaking new ground related to a…

In order to sustain fast growth, cancer cells need to take up nutrients at a faster rate than healthy cells. The human glutamine transporter ASCT2 allows the amino acid g...

FDA approves first generics of Lyrica

On July 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved multiple applications for first generics of Lyrica (pregabalin) for the management of neuropathic pain associat...

Roche and Spark Therapeutics, Inc. announce extens…

Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) and Spark Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ONCE) ("Spark") announced that Roche has extended the offering period of its previously announced...

FDA approves first treatment for severe hypoglycem…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Baqsimi nasal powder, the first glucagon therapy approved for the emergency treatment of severe hypoglycemia that c...

Rye is healthy, thanks to an interplay of microbes

Eating rye comes with a variety of health benefits. A new study from the University of Eastern Finland now shows that both lactic acid bacteria and gut bacteria contribut...

GSK completes transaction with Pfizer to form new …

The Joint Venture brings together two highly complementary portfolios of trusted consumer health brands, including GSK's Sensodyne, Voltaren and Panadol and Pfizer's Advi...