CDK4/CDK6 Inhibitors Alter Metabolism of Pancreatic Cancer Cells; New Findings Reveal Biologic Vulnerability That Might Be Exploited for Therapeutic Gain in Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer

A new brain imaging study from MIT and Harvard Medical School may lead to a screen that could identify children at high risk of developing depressioUniversity of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center researchers have found that cancer drugs known as CDK4/CDK6 inhibitors alter the metabolism of pancreatic cancer cells, revealing a biologic vulnerability that could be exploited for therapeutic gain. The findings were published online today (January 21, 2015) in an open-access article in Cell Reports. The article is titled “Metabolic Reprogramming of Pancreatic Cancer Mediated by CDK4/6 Inhibition Elicits Unique Vulnerabilities.” Because pancreatic cancer has one of the worst prognoses of any cancer and is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute, researchers for years have sought to find better treatment options. Last year, the FDA approved the first cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 (CDK4/6) inhibitor for treating a certain type of advanced breast cancer. This class of drugs has been widely studied in clinical trials for many other types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer. CDK 4/6 inhibitors are cytostatic, meaning they work by preventing cancer cells from growing and dividing. “On the one hand, that’s great, because the tumor won’t grow, but on the other hand, the patient still has a tumor, which will eventually become resistant to those drugs,” said study senior author Dr. Erik Knudsen (photo), Professor of Internal Medicine in the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development at UT Southwestern. “There’s a lot of interest in better understanding the biology behind CDK4/6 inhibitors – and in finding out whether we can use that information to kill tumors instead of simply stopping their growth,” added Dr.
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