Welcome to this week’s edition of Weekend Wonderings. Basketball season is finally over. Congratulations to the UConn Huskies for winning the men’s and the women’s NCAA Championships. Let the good times roll in Storrs, CT. The OSU football team’s Spring game was yesterday, but I’m sure that I’ll have some thoughts in next week’s edition.
Well-Known Cancer Gene NRAS Produces Five Variants, Study Finds
A new study shows that a gene discovered 30 years ago and now known to play a fundamental role in cancer development produces five different gene variants (called isoforms), rather than just the one original form, as thought.
The study of the NRAS gene by researchers at the (OSUCCC – James) identified four previously unknown variants that the NRAS gene produces. The finding might help improve drugs for cancers in which aberrant activation of NRAS plays a crucial role. It also suggests that NRAS might affect additional target molecules in cells, the researchers say.
The isoforms show striking differences in size, abundance and effects. For example, the historically known protein (isoform 1) is 189 amino-acids long, while one of the newly discovered variants, isoform 5, is only 20 amino-acids long. Isoform 5 was the most aggressive variant in proliferation and transformation assays.
The last sentence and a half are not surprising. A smaller, “stripped-down” gene is much more likely to reproduce more quickly than its “bigger” brethren. As such, the isoform 5 variant may be the most dangerous of the five that were identified. As long as I’m on genes..
Here’s an article by Rameek Roychowdhury MD, PhD that explains genomics and its use at The James. It is a good, short overview, and a very good read.
Welcome to this week’s edition of Weekend Wonderings. The basketball teams are swimming upstream right now, and the current is strong. We see the destination, we need to just keep stroking. Grab whatever beverage that you need and let’s proceed.
The James/Wexner, Cleveland Clinic
This is “virus” week on Weekend Wonderings. Let’s start with a brief refresher. From Berkeley Wellness article on August 2012:
“One in every six cases of cancer worldwide can be attributed to viruses and other infectious agents, a new study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer has confirmed.”
Which leads us to findings that the HPV virus can damage genes:
“Our sequencing data showed in vivid detail that HPV can damage host-cell genes and chromosomes at sites of viral insertion,” says co-senior author David Symer, MD, PhD, assistant professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics at the OSUCCC – James.
“HPV can act like a tornado hitting the genome, disrupting and rearranging nearby host-cell genes,” Symer explains. “This can lead to overexpression of cancer-causing genes in some cases, or it can disrupt protective tumor-suppressor genes in others. Both kinds of damage likely promote the development of cancer.”
As mentioned last couple of weeks, there is more effort given to MicroRNA in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. We’re at it again, with what I think is a great announcement; Ohio State is partnering with Micro Bio, Inc. This partnership licenses nearly 100 issued and pending microRNA patents.
The Ohio State University today announced the signing of an exclusive world-wide agreement with Microlin Bio Inc., licensing a large portfolio of Ohio State’s groundbreaking cancer discoveries. The portfolio includes nearly 100 issued and pending microRNA patents that could lead to entirely new, more effective and more targeted ways to diagnose and treat prostate, ovarian, colon and lung cancers. Additionally, Microlin Bio Inc. has licensed a novel nucleic acid delivery technology to deliver these transformational therapies to cancer cells.
I’m actually glad to see the commercialization of OSU’s research. This arrangement gets the patent information into the hands of an entity that can, hopefully, take this work and “bring it to market” where the OSU results can be use for diagnosis and treatment. Similarly, Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) in Buffalo has licensed/spun off various research into commercial endeavors to get their research to market. Ohio State will also have an equity position in Microlin Bio Inc.
“Our goal is to support the researchers at Ohio State in the commercialization process,” says Erin Bender, associate director of Ohio State’s Technology Commercialization Office, whose team worked on the license deal. “We believe that the licensing of these technologies will transform the care of cancer patients in Ohio and throughout the world.”
I think it is interesting that OSU will take an equity position in this venture. I’m speculating, since I don’t know the deal details, but it seems that OSU, in addition to receiving financial licensing benefits, will have a significant say in the development of their work. I like this business model. It’ll be good for OSU and it will be good for the medical community.
Welcome to the latest edition of Weekend Wonderings. Take a minute, grab whatever you drink on a Sunday afternoon and let’s carry on.
As mentioned last week, I’m a big believer/supporter of genetic/molecular diagnosis and treatments of cancer. In concert with Charles’ fine article, here is the latest with OSU medical research regarding lung cancer. This is significant, because lung cancer is a brutal disease. To start, lung cancer is the 2nd most prevalent cancer. Interestingly, there are more cases of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but with a 70% mortality rate, lung cancer patients aren’t as prevalent. Sadly enough.
Researchers at the (OSUCCC – James) have discovered that levels of the gene microRNA-31 (miR-31) predict the spread of the most common form of lung cancer to nearby lymph nodes.
They found that high levels of miR-31 in primary tumor cells predicted lymph node metastasis and poor survival in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Low expression levels were associated with the absence of metastases and excellent survival.
“Our findings suggest that microRNA expression in the primary lung tumor can estimate whether the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes and can help direct patients to the most appropriate treatment,” says principal investigator Tim Lautenschlaeger, MD, a researcher in Radiation Oncology and the OSUCCC – James Experimental Therapeutics Program.
This process gives researchers and treatment providers a much clearer picture of the disease, which determines treatment protocols. Once the treatment protocol is determined, the patient has a better chance of recovery, or at least holding the course.