Scientists working to understand the cellular processes linking high cholesterol to breast cancer recurrence and metastasis report that a byproduct of cholesterol metabolism causes some cells to send out cancer-promoting signals to other cells. These signals are packaged in membrane-bound compartments called extracellular vesicles.
A newly developed laser source and microscope are helping researchers better understand and search for biomarkers indicative of cancer and other diseases, offering new promise for early detection and treatment plans.
Although the development of secondary cancerous growths, called metastasis, is the primary cause of death in most cancers, the cellular changes that drive it are poorly understood. In a new study, published in Genome Biology, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have developed a new modeling approach to better understand how tumors become aggressive.
Hyunjoon Kong (M-CELS leader/EIRH/RBTE), Robert W. Schafer professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, approaches cancer research from a perspective that integrates cell engineering and biomaterials. The Kong research team has been working with Georgia Tech University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) over the past 10 years under the National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Technology Center Grant.
Several Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL) and IGB members are joining forces with scientists from the Mayo Clinic and Georgetown University on an expansive project targeting improved treatment for glioblastoma (GBM), the most aggressive form of brain cancer. The team, led by Brendan Harley (RBTE leader/EIRH), professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, recently received a $3M grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for their research which will unite the cell biology, bioengineering, and chemistry behind cancer drug development.
Researchers affiliated with the Cancer Center at Illinois and the IGB discovered a novel small molecule compound that is now the subject of a new global licensing agreement between the pharmaceutical company Bayer AG and the cancer drug development company Systems Oncology LLC. Systems Oncology originally licensed the IP related to the compound in 2018, and this new deal will now give Bayer the exclusive rights to develop the compound, currently called ERSO, as a cancer therapy.
In breast cancer tumors, a molecule produced when the body breaks down cholesterol hijacks the myeloid immune cells that normally arm T cells to fight cancer, a new study in mice found. Instead, the hijacked myeloid cells disarm the T cells and even tell them to self-destruct.
When assessing whether or not a tumor is benign or cancerous, a needle biopsy is the usual method of diagnosis. The tissue can then be analyzed to determine what mutations are present that are specific to the patient. Because this method is invasive, it’s generally only used once. During and after chemotherapy, imaging tests are used to monitor the size of the tumor; however, imaging only shows the physical characteristics of the tumor – it fails to monitor what is actually happening to the cells.
Scientists have developed new drug compounds that thwart the pro-cancer activity of FOXM1, a transcription factor that regulates the activity of dozens of genes. The new compounds suppress tumor growth in human cells and in mouse models of several types of human breast cancer.
The researchers report their findings in the journal NPJ Breast Cancer.