US company ComChem has published the first in vivo data in support of a novel approach to treat malignant glioma, a form of brain cancer.
The study, in Cancer Genetics, describes a new cell signal intercept switch and provides preliminary evidence that an inhibitor of its enzyme component - PI3-kinase - has significant antitumour activity.
PI3k and PTEN, a tumour suppressor gene, are identified in the study as a non-redundant switch involved in cell survival, cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and apoptosis (programmed cell death). The study presents evidence that both PTEN and PI3k inhibitors regulate the function of p53, a well-characterised cancer-associated gene, block the growth of both the tumours and their blood vessel supply in animal models of glioma.
ComChem said the results support the concept that controlling the switch with targeted small molecule drugs "could provide significant advantages over several of today's therapies for cancer and multiple other disorders."
Specifically, the company notes that many of the current therapies, including Genentech's Avastin (bevacizumab) and ImClone's Erbitux (cetuximab), only interfere with redundant, and often non-critical, cellular signals, and only provide marginal improvements to current therapies. ComChem believes its approach allows it to identify those non-redundant signals that should provide more focused drugs targets, and ultimately more potent drugs.