Abstract: In the last decade, the tyrosine kinase receptor cMET, together with its ligand hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), has become a target in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Signalization via cMET stimulates several oncological processes amongst which are cell motility, invasion and metastasis. It also confers resistance against several currently used targeted therapies, e.g., epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors. In this review, we will discuss the basic structure of cMET and the most important signaling pathways. We will also look into aberrations in the signaling and the effects thereof in cancer growth, with the focus on NSCLC. Finally, we will discuss the role of cMET as resistance mechanism.
Abstract: Glioblastoma (GBM), a WHO-defined Grade IV astrocytoma, is the most common and aggressive CNS malignancy. Despite current treatment modalities, the survival time remains dismal. The main cause of mortality in patients with this disease is reoccurrence of the malignancy, which is attributed to treatment-resistant cancer stem cells within and surrounding the primary tumor. Inclusion of novel therapies, such as immuno- and DNA-based therapy, may provide better means of treating GBM. Furthermore, manipulation of recently discovered non-coding microRNAs, some of which regulate tumor growth through the development and maintenance of GBM stem cells, could provide new prospective therapies. Studies conducted by The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) also demonstrate the role of molecular pathways, specifically the activated PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, in GBM tumorigenesis. Inhibition of the aforementioned pathway may provide a more direct and targeted method to GBM treatment. The combination of these treatment modalities may provide an innovative therapeutic approach for the management of GBM.
Abstract: Signal transducers and activators of transcription (Stats) play central roles in the conversion of extracellular signals, e.g., cytokines, hormones and growth factors, into tissue and cell type specific gene expression patterns. In normal cells, their signaling potential is strictly limited in extent and duration. The persistent activation of Stat3 or Stat5 is found in many human tumor cells and contributes to their growth and survival. Stat5 activation plays a pivotal role in nearly all hematological malignancies and occurs downstream of oncogenic kinases, e.g., Bcr-Abl in chronic myeloid leukemias (CML) and Jak2(V617F) in other myeloproliferative diseases (MPD). We defined the mechanisms through which Stat5 affects growth and survival of K562 cells, representative of Bcr-Abl positive CML, and HEL cells, representative for Jak2(V617F) positive acute erythroid leukemia. In our experiments we suppressed the protein expression levels of Stat5a and Stat5b through shRNA mediated downregulation and demonstrated the dependence of cell survival on the presence of Stat5. Alternatively, we interfered with the functional capacities of the Stat5 protein through the interaction with a Stat5 specific peptide ligand. This ligand is a Stat5 specific peptide aptamer construct which comprises a 12mer peptide integrated into a modified thioredoxin scaffold, S5-DBD-PA. The peptide sequence specifically recognizes the DNA binding domain (DBD) of Stat5. Complex formation of S5-DBD-PA with Stat5 causes a strong reduction of P-Stat5 in the nuclear fraction of Bcr-Abl-transformed K562 cells and a suppression of Stat5 target genes. Distinct Stat5 mediated survival mechanisms were detected in K562 and Jak2(V617F)-transformed HEL cells. Stat5 is activated in the nuclear and cytosolic compartments of K562 cells and the S5-DBD-PA inhibitor most likely affects the viability of Bcr-Abl+ K562 cells through the inhibition of canonical Stat5 induced target gene transcription. In HEL cells, Stat5 is predominantly present in the cytoplasm and the survival of the Jak2(V617F)+ HEL cells is impeded through the inhibition of the cytoplasmic functions of Stat5.
Abstract: Background: High-LET ion irradiation is being more and more often used to control tumors in patients. Given that tumors are now considered as complex organs composed of multiple cell types that can influence radiosensitivity, we investigated the effects of proton and alpha particle irradiation on the possible radioprotective cross-talk between cancer and endothelial cells. Materials and Methods: We designed new irradiation chambers that allow co-culture study of cells irradiated with a particle beam. A549 lung carcinoma cells and endothelial cells (EC) were exposed to 1.5 Gy of proton beam or 1 and 2 Gy of alpha particles. Cell responses were studied by clonogenic assays and cell cycle was analyzed by flow cytometry. Gene expression studies were performed using Taqman low density array and by RT-qPCR. Results: A549 cells and EC displayed similar survival fraction and they had similar cell cycle distribution when irradiated alone or in co-culture. Both types of irradiation induced the overexpression of genes involved in cell growth, inflammation and angiogenesis. Conclusions: We set up new irradiation chamber in which two cell types were irradiated together with a particle beam. We could not show that tumor cells and endothelial cells were able to protect each other from particle irradiation. Gene expression changes were observed after particle irradiation that could suggest a possible radioprotective inter-cellular communication between the two cell types but further investigations are needed to confirm these results.
Abstract: Despite increasing use of proton therapy (PBT), several systematic literature reviews show limited gains in clinical outcomes, with publications mostly devoted to recent technical developments. The lack of randomised control studies has also hampered progress in the acceptance of PBT by many oncologists and policy makers. There remain two important uncertainties associated with PBT, namely: (1) accuracy and reproducibility of Bragg peak position (BPP); and (2) imprecise knowledge of the relative biological effect (RBE) for different tissues and tumours, and at different doses. Incorrect BPP will change dose, linear energy transfer (LET) and RBE, with risks of reduced tumour control and enhanced toxicity. These interrelationships are discussed qualitatively with respect to the ICRU target volume definitions. The internationally accepted proton RBE of 1.1 was based on assays and dose ranges unlikely to reveal the complete range of RBE in the human body. RBE values are not known for human (or animal) brain, spine, kidney, liver, intestine, etc. A simple efficiency model for estimating proton RBE values is described, based on data of Belli et al. and other authors, which allows linear increases in α and β with LET, with a gradient estimated using a saturation model from the low LET α and β radiosensitivity parameter input values, and decreasing RBE with increasing dose. To improve outcomes, 3-D dose-LET-RBE and bio-effectiveness maps are required. Validation experiments are indicated in relevant tissues. Randomised clinical studies that test the invariant 1.1 RBE allocation against higher values in late reacting tissues, and lower tumour RBE values in the case of radiosensitive tumours, are also indicated.
Abstract: The increase in life expectancy worldwide has resulted in a greater prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases. This study aims to evaluate the prevalence and factors associated with the occurrence of cancer among Brazilian women over the age of 50. A cross-sectional study with 622 women over the age of 50 was performed using a population survey. The outcome variable was the occurrence of a malignant tumor in any location. The independent variables were sociodemographic characteristics, self-perception of health, health-related habits and morbidities. Statistical analysis was carried out using the chi-square test and Poisson regression. The mean age of the women was 64.1 years. The prevalence of cancer was 6.8%. The main sites of occurrence of malignant tumors were the breast (31.9%), colorectal (12.7%) and skin (12.7%). In the final statistical model, the only factor associated with cancer was smoking > 15 cigarettes/day either currently or in the past: PR 2.03 (95% CI 1.06–3.89). The results have improved understanding of the prevalence and factors associated with cancer in Brazilian women aged 50 years or more. They should be encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle and pay particular attention to modifiable risk factors such as smoking.