Abstract: Most solid cancers contain regions of necrotic tissue. The extent of necrosis is associated with poor survival, most likely because it reflects aggressive tumour outgrowth and inflammation. Intravenously injected spores of anaerobic bacteria from the genus Clostridium infiltrate and selectively germinate in these necrotic regions, providing cancer-specific colonisation. The specificity of this system was first demonstrated over 60 years ago and evidence of colonisation has been confirmed in multiple tumour models. The use of “armed” clostridia, such as in Clostridium Directed Enzyme Prodrug Therapy (CDEPT), may help to overcome some of the described deficiencies of using wild-type clostridia for treatment of cancer, such as tumour regrowth from a well-vascularised outer rim of viable cells. Successful preclinical evaluation of a transferable gene that metabolises both clinical stage positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agents (for whole body vector visualisation) as well as chemotherapy prodrugs (for conditional enhancement of efficacy) would be a valuable early step towards the prospect of “armed” clostridia entering clinical evaluation. The ability to target the immunosuppressive hypoxic tumour microenvironment using CDEPT may offer potential for synergy with recently developed immunotherapy strategies. Ultimately, clostridia may be most efficacious when combined with conventional therapies, such as radiotherapy, that sterilise viable aerobic tumour cells.
Abstract: Improving early detection of lung cancer is critical to improving lung cancer survival. Studies have shown that computerized tomography (CT) screening can reduce mortality from lung cancer, but this involves risks of radiation exposure and can identify non-cancer lung nodules that lead to unnecessary interventions for some. There is a critical need to develop alternative, less invasive methods to identify patients who have early-stage lung cancer. The detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are a promising area of research, but current technology is limited by a low yield of CTCs. Alternate studies are investigating circulating nucleic acids and proteins as possible tumor markers. It is critical to develop innovative methods for early lung cancer detection that may include CTCs or other markers that are low-risk and low-cost, yet specific and sensitive, to facilitate improved survival by diagnosing the disease when it is surgically curable.
Abstract: Dickkopf-1 (DKK1) is a secreted Wnt/β-catenin pathway antagonist involved in embryogenesis. It was first described 25 years ago for its function in head induction and limb morphogenesis. Since then, this protein has been widely studied in the context of active Wnt/β-catenin signalling during cellular differentiation and development. Dysregulation of DKK1 has been associated with bone pathologies and has now emerged as a potential biomarker of cancer progression and prognosis for several types of malignancies. Reducing the amount of circulating DKK1 may reveal a simple and efficient strategy to limit or reverse cancer growth. This review will provide an overview of the role of Dickkopf-1 in cancer and explore its potential use as a biomarker and therapeutic target.
Abstract: Aberrant regulation of Wnt signaling is a common theme seen across many tumor types. Decades of research have unraveled the epigenetic and genetic alterations that result in elevated Wnt pathway activity. More recently, it has become apparent that Wnt signaling levels identify stem-like tumor cells that are responsible for fueling tumor growth. As therapeutic targeting of these tumor stem cells is an intense area of investigation, a concise understanding on how Wnt activity relates to cancer stem cell traits is needed. This review attempts at summarizing the intricacies between Wnt signaling and cancer stem cell biology with a special emphasis on colorectal cancer.
Abstract: The aberrant activity of Wnt signaling is an early step in the transformation of normal intestinal cells to malignant tissue, leading to more aggressive tumors, and eventually metastases. In colorectal cancer (CRC), metastasis accounts for about 90% of patient deaths, representing the most lethal event during the course of the disease and is directly linked to patient survival, critically limiting successful therapy. This review focuses on our studies of the metastasis-inducing gene S100A4, which we identified as transcriptional target of β-catenin. S100A4 increased migration and invasion in vitro and metastasis in mice. In patient CRC samples, high S100A4 levels predict metastasis and reduced patient survival. Our results link pathways important for tumor progression and metastasis: the Wnt signaling pathway and S100A4, which regulates motility and invasiveness. S100A4 suppression by interdicting Wnt signaling has potential for therapeutic intervention. As proof of principle, we applied S100A4 shRNA systemically and prevented metastasis in mice. Furthermore, we identified small molecule inhibitors from high-throughput screens of pharmacologically active compounds employing an S100A4 promoter-driven reporter. Best hits act, as least in part, via intervening in the Wnt pathway and restricted metastasis in mouse models. We currently translate our findings on restricting S100A4-driven metastasis into clinical practice. The repositioned FDA-approved drug niclosamide, targeting Wnt signaling, is being tested in a prospective phase II clinical trial for treatment of CRC patients. Our assay for circulating S100A4 transcripts in patient blood is used to monitor treatment success.
Abstract: A diet rich in vegetables has been associated with a reduced risk of many diseases related to aging and modern lifestyle. Over the past several decades, many researches have pointed out the direct relation between the intake of bioactive compounds present in tomato and a reduced risk of suffering different types of cancer. These bioactive constituents comprise phytochemicals such as carotenoids and polyphenols. The direct intake of these chemoprotective molecules seems to show higher efficiencies when they are ingested in its natural biological matrix than when they are ingested isolated or in dietary supplements. Consequently, there is a growing trend for improvement of the contents of these bioactive compounds in foods. The control of growing environment and processing conditions can ensure the maximum potential accumulation or moderate the loss of bioactive compounds, but the best results are obtained developing new varieties via plant breeding. The modification of single steps of metabolic pathways or their regulation via conventional breeding or genetic engineering has offered excellent results in crops such as tomato. In this review, we analyse the potential of tomato as source of the bioactive constituents with cancer-preventive properties and the result of modern breeding programs as a strategy to increase the levels of these compounds in the diet.