Oncology

Oncology is the most advanced area in genomics right now. The field is setting the standard for other indications to follow and improve upon.

Protein and Receptor Combination Slows Metastasis in Mouse Models

Swiss scientists have found a potential new way to block metastasis, with promising results demonstrated in mice. The researchers have found a “barrier”, built by the Activin B protein and a receptor called ALK7, the combo of which prevents tumours from spreading through the body.

DNA Mutation “Fingerprint Database” Identifies Cancer Causes

Cambridge and London researchers have created a database of DNA mutation “fingerprints” which can be used to determine the environmental factors contributing to a patient’s tumour. The study, published in Cell journal, can determine 41 different environmental agents linked to cancer, including the traces left in lung tumours by chemicals linked particularly to tobacco smoke.

CRISPR Identifies Cancer Drug Targets

A team from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Broad Institute have used CRISPR-Cas9 to identify key genes required for cancer survival. Over 18,000 genes from 30 different cancer types were screened, a computational framework then developed to prioritise the 600 most promising drug development targets.

Using Immune Cells to Predict Cancer Outcomes

Certain changes in immune cells within cancerous tumours which reflect how tumours behave in common cancers could see better treatments created in the future. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, also discovered a set of genes expressed at high levels in breast cancer tumours, and often linked to more aggressive types of cancer.

Two Studies Find Reasons for IO Drug Resistance

Two separate studies have uncovered insights into why checkpoint-inhibiting immune-oncology (IO) drugs only work for a minority of patients, even when combined with other treatments. The first study uncovered a resistance mechanism within the gut microbiome, while the other relates to cancer cell-produced vesicles.

Heating Solid Tumours Increases CAR-T Therapy Success Rate

Heating solid tumours during CAR-T cell therapy could increase change of success, researchers from the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have found. Combining a heating technique called photothermal ablation with the infusion of CAR-T cells suppressed melanoma tumor growth for up to 20 days in mice.

Bristol-Myers Squibb to Buy Celgene for $74bn

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has announced intentions to buy Celgene for $74bn. This transaction, the fourth largest such deal in pharma history, will give BMS access to several cancer franchises, including experimental cell therapies which attack tumours.

Reprogrammed Skin Cells Shrink Mouse Tumours

Personalised tumour-detecting cells from adult skin cells have been used to shrink brain tumours in mice by up to 5%, scientists have revealed. While the strategy has not yet been fully tested in people, it could in the future give doctors the ability to develop a custom treatment for certain cancer types.

CRUK and AstraZeneca to Launch New Genomics Centre in UK

AstraZeneca and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) have announced that they will work together to open a new research centre in the UK, applying CRISPR and other functional genomics technologies to develop new cancer drugs. Specifically, the centre will study how genes and proteins interact with each other in cancer cells, and create disease models using genome-altering technologies based on this.