For patients of cancer undergoing targeted therapy, a new blood test is a breakthrough. The blood test is distinguished that allows doctors to know if the treatment is working, within one day. Due to this remarkable trait, this will help doctors expedite the evaluation process and enable them to make adjustments to the line of treatment if required.
In fact, unlike other predecessor chemotherapies that interfere with all rapidly multiplying cells and can cause massive damage to cells, targeted medicines work exactly the opposite. Targeted medicines attack specific molecules to block the abnormal growth of cancer cells.
Meanwhile, currently, the clinical evaluation of targeted drugs primarily is dependent on either tumor volumetric imaging or invasive tissue biopsies. To expand the use of targeted drugs, a team of researchers at the National University of Singapore have developed an accurate, less invasive technology that uses liquid biopsies, thus, significantly forwards the investigation window.
The technique is the world’s first of its kind. The technique takes advantage of extracellular vesicles secreted by cancer cells, and circulates it in the blood as an indicator of effectiveness of drugs in solid tumors.
Importantly, conventional procedures such as tumor imaging are expensive and are also delayed. The effectiveness of these treatments can be gauged only after weeks. On the other hand, use of the new technique enables to directly measure outcomes of effectiveness of drugs within 24 hours of initiation of the treatment. This is presumed to significantly reduce the cost and time for monitoring of cancer treatment.
Besides this, the technique requires only a small amount of blood sample for analysis and each requires less than an hour to complete.
Tumor cells that circulate freely in blood vessels have been deemed as potential indications of cancer being spread to other parts of the body for a very long time. The fact is, however, that most free-floating cancer cells in blood vessels do not lead to the formation of a new tumor. But according to a new research, if these free-floating tumors are accurately counted, they can prove to be beneficial for tracking the treatment in a more effective manner and help in the better screening of the disease.
Seungpyo Hong and his team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have built the research on several years of research revolving these cast-off tumor cells, also called circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and have demonstrated improved ways of capturing them in clinical samples for the first time ever. The researchers proceeded by slowing down cancer cells and developed cancer-specific antibodies strong enough to trap CTCs. This allowed researchers to identify vast numbers of free-floating tumors in cancer patients that were undergoing radiation therapy.
Researchers found out that the number of free-floating tumor cells in the blood vessels reduced during the therapy and increased again in the patients that were found to need additional treatment. This suggests that the technology can work as a supplementary technique with other techniques for supervising the progress of the treatment.
The detailed study has been published in the scientific journal Clinical Cancer Research. The research also saw collaboration from researchers across the South Korea’s Yonsei University, University of Illinois, Chicago, and Duke University. The research was, in part, funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health.
The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and Enamine, have collaborated to develop novel small molecules which works against anti-cancer targets. As per the terms of this collaboration, Enamine is providing medicinal chemistry, library synthesis, and biological services to EMBL for their cause and together they expect to focus on creating new cancer therapeutics and novel modes of action. The collaboration comprises the deployment of medicinal chemists who are Full Time Equivalent (FTE), at Enamine.
Millions of Compounds Needed to Up Chemical Diversity at Screening Decks
For many years, the EMBL has been working with Enamine to improve the chemical space of their screening library, stated the Head of Chemical Biology Core Facility at EMBL, Joe Lewis. With the realization that above 2 mn collection of compounds can provide quality compounds, there is a need for increasing the chemical diversity of their screening deck. Thus, Enamine was chosen to outsource for their medicinal chemistry discovery program, as the company can help in the field of drug development and chemical biology.
Integration of Chemistry and Biology Service Portfolio
As per David Will, the Head of Medicinal Chemistry at EMBL, the collaboration with Enamine will help their project’s goal of identifying the targets from phenotypic screens, and then synthesizing and triaging patentable preclinical compounds that are new. The access to the world’s largest collection of building blocks at Enamine will go a long way in developing a preclinical compound. The integration of chemistry and biology service portfolio is apt for this kind of research.
“Our collaboration with EMBL illustrates our established engagement with non-profit academic research institutions and disease foundations in their search for strong and committed partners in the most challenging discovery research projects. We look forward to our continued successful work with EMBL”, concluded Michael Bossert, Head Strategic Alliances at Enamine.