Combination Target Offers Potential Strategy for Blood, Brain Cancer Treatments

Promise seen in targeting protein in PTEN-deficient cancer cells.

A novel combination of therapeutics may fuel developments in personalized therapy for blood and brain cancers, according to a study in Cell Reports.

“We found a new combination of therapeutics that could treat cancers that lack a protein called PTEN,” said investigator David Plas, PhD. “PTEN is an important tumor suppressor, which means that it stops cell growth and division according to the needs of the body.”

Prior research by investigators used experimental therapeutics in human cancer cells and tumor models. The experiments demonstrated that by stopping the production and function of the protein S6K1, it could eliminate PTEN-deficient glioblastoma cells.

“We used support from the Huffman Foundation to conduct a sophisticated biochemical analysis of how cells respond to S6K1 targeting,” Plas said. “Combining the biochemical results with computational analysis gave us the insight that we needed—–there are targets in addition to S6K1 that can be hit to trigger the elimination of PTEN-deficient cancer cells.”

Armed with new information, the investigators tested pharmaceutical-grade drug combinations to determine whether they could eliminate PTEN-deficient cancer cells.

The results of the study showed the combination of drugs LY-2779964 and BMS-777607 worked together to specifically target and eliminate PTEN-deficient cells.

“This is a completely new combination of targets in oncology,” Plas said. “We have great hope that our new data will lead academic and industry researchers to investigate S6K1 as the center of new combination strategies for cancers of the brain, blood, and other tissues.”

Future studies will examine the safety and efficacy of the novel combination in tumor models, with the primary goal of preparing the combination strategy for clinical trials, according to the authors.

“There is a desperate need for novel therapeutic agents for patients with glioblastoma,” said Ronald Warnick, MD. “This combination of drugs has the potential to become a game changer.”