The Role of P53 in Radiosensitivity, Cancer in Whales, and More

  • The advent of mining large datasets for cancer data made it possible to discern patterns shared by different cancer types. Therefore, providing an opportunity for applying the approaches proved to be successful in one type of cancer to another type based on the shared characteristics. The method is often used in predicting anti-cancer drug response. Researchers from the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center developed a visualization method aimed at improving anti-cancer drug response predictions “by teasing apart and allowing for simultaneous examination of differences across multiple cancer types as well as within individual types”. The method supports an evidence-based approach in making treatment decisions by considering both cancer type and individual variation within that cancer type. This research was published in PLOS Computation Biology.
  • An international team of scientists studied a novel approach to drug discovery, different from the traditional small molecule approach that target only some percentage of proteins active in causing the disease. The new method, aimed at battling the cancer cell drug resistance, “uses a family of human enzymes called ubiquitin ligases that exist in human cells”, which, potentially, can be guided to degrade and kill the disease-causing protein. The study was published in Nature.
  • As cancer radiation therapy efficiency depends on multiple factors, the scientists continue their efforts to understand the biology of tissues sensitivity to radiotherapy. The scientists from the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research focused their research on the role of a well-known tumor suppressor protein p53. It is long established that p53 is linked to the degree of a tissue’s sensitivity to radiation, but the exact nature of this connection was unknown. This new research found that post radiation exposure, tissues sensitive to radiation show persistent p53 signaling while more resistant tissues show just brief p53 activation. The researchers concluded that it is the dynamics of p53 signaling after radiation that is a factor in the tissues’ radiosensitivity. and not the excess of p53 protein in a tissue. The study was published in Nature Communications.
  • Cancer research is conducted not only in humans but in other species. Cancer research in animals may have potential implications for treating human cancers. In the new study, the international team of scientists focused on whales and the reasons for their low cancer rates. The scientists “used DNA sequencing to create a genetic map of whales’ tumor suppressor genes and those of 15 other mammal species”. This study that contributed to the knowledge of genetic mechanisms of tumor suppression in whales was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society.