Scientists are developing new ways to treat small cell lung cancer

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A significant discovery at the UVA Cancer Center has led scientists to halt the development of small cell lung cancer in lab mice, as the latest findings could pave the way for a new form of treatment.

The researchers, led by UVA’s Kwon-Sik Park and John H Bushweller, were trying to understand the role played by a mutation in the EP300 gene in the formation of small cell lung cancer tumors. Their experiments led to the discovery that the gene makes a protein with surprising properties, which can do both – promote or prevent the development of small cell lung cancer. By preventing the gene from acting as a tumor promoter, the researchers were able to prevent cancer from forming and spreading. This has been successfully conducted in both cellular systems and live mice.

The protein’s important role in tumor formation makes it a good topic for researchers looking to discover new methods of treating small cell lung cancer, which is an extremely rare form of cancer. The five-year survival rate for patients with SCLC is set at 7%.

Commenting on the results, Park said: “The most remarkable aspect of our findings is that we explained the unique vulnerability of EP300 at the molecular level, down to a single amino acid. Given the frequent EP300 mutations found in a wide range of cancer types, I hope the concept of targeting the EP300 KIX domain will have greater
general applicability for the treatment of cancer.”

The latest discovery from the UVA Cancer Center offers a new approach to the treatment of small cell lung cancer. Park and his team made this shocking discovery while investigating the role of the EP300 gene in the development of SCLC using genetically modified mouse models. They discovered that the protein made by the gene could both promote and suppress tumor formation. One component, or “domain”, of the protein appears to promote the development of cancer, while another appears to prevent it.

The scientists studied the tumor-promoting domain, called KIX, in more detail and found that it was essential for the development of SCLC. Cancer could not exist without it. It turned out Cancer had to get its KIX. This means that targeting KIX could offer a way to treat SCLC in patients. In a new scientific paper describing their findings, the researchers called KIX a “unique vulnerability” in small cell lung cancer.

Bushweller said: “Based on these data, we are very excited to pursue the development of a drug targeting the KIX domain, as it will likely have multiple applications for the treatment of cancer, particularly for the SCLC and leukemia.”

The researchers were pleased with the development as they produced a promising advance in the effort to develop better treatments for small cell lung cancer.

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