New Drug Target Found in Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma

ACC is a hard-to-treat glandular cancer that is both rare and lethal.

Researchers may have dented the armor in adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) with the use of a newly developed novel cell culture approach.

ACC is a hard-to-treat glandular cancer that is both rare and lethal, with a high recurrence rate.

There are very few treatment options at this time and the cancer has proven to be largely resistant to radiation therapy.

Published in Clinical Cancer Research, a novel cell culture technique was developed by researchers to isolate and examine ACC cancer stem cells.

The results of the study found similarities between ACC stem cells and cancer stem cells from cancers like glioma, melanoma, and neuroblastoma.

“Within ACC cells, we found the especially aggressive cancer stem cells,” said co-senior study author Sergey Ivanov. “As important, we found the Achilles heel of these cells, which is their addiction to NOTCH1, a signaling molecule that helps these cells to survive therapy and multiply. Fortunately, cancer stem cells can be killed by blocking NOTCH1 production.”

ACC affects approximately 1200 people each year and has a 5-year survival rate of nearly 90%. However, this rate decreases significantly, dropping to 40% of patients who survive 15 years after diagnosis. The data from the study shows promise for future treatment of ACC, according to researchers.

“Our study suggests that drugs, which are now used in clinical trials to block NOTCH signaling in a variety of cancers, could be effective against ACC,” said co-senior study author Wendell Yarbrough, MD. “Also, our study highlights that there are good targets for therapeutic development in ACC. These findings should form the basis for clinical trials."