Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cancer Drugs Losing Out: Pruning the Branches, Not Cutting the Trees

An oncologist puts the cancer patient on a targeted therapy, the cancer goes away, patient goes home. But, 6 months later, the cancer is back (relapsed) and is aggressive stage IV. Biologically, the cancer cells have mutated to bypass/ignore the expensive targeted therapy.

At the molecular level, the cancer cells are constantly mutating, evolving, and generating diversity. This phenomenon of cancer evolution is central to cancer relapse, tumor escape and therapeutic failure.

New research from the Institute of Cancer Research, UK, shows extreme diversity of cancer cell types in leukemia patients: multiple cancers within a cancer. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Using canSAR Database to Learn About Cancer Drugs and Targets

Imagine that you heard about a groundbreaking hot new cancer drug on the evening news. And you are curious, and you want to find more about this drug. Where would you turn to? Google? 

Among the search engine hits will be a press release from the company and a multitude of news commentaries and blogposts, all various incarnations of the press release itself. These sources will have a summary of the best results from the Phase 3 clinical trial, promising (maybe self-congratulatory) statements from the CEO or CMO of the company, a paragraph on safety signals and usual disclaimers.

But what if you actually want to know more about the drug target, its biology, chemistry, structural biology, pharmacology, bioactivity (and experimental models) and all kinds of apparently boring (to the investment community) scientific data. 

This "mundane" data is generally scattered in journal articles, conferences abstracts and posters, and patent filings. Now there is an easier way to get a snapshot of this data: via a public database canSAR.