MK 1775, a small, selective inhibitor molecule, has been found to be active against many sarcomas when tested by researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. Their findings, appearing online on November 14, 2011 in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, published by the American Association for Cancer Research, suggest that a badly needed new agent against sarcomas - especially sarcomas affecting children - may be at hand. According to corresponding author Dr. Soner Altiok, sarcomas are rare forms of cancers and comprise more than 70 types. Approximately 10 percent of children with cancer are diagnosed with sarcomas, compared to eight percent of young adults and one percent of adults. While chemotherapy and radiation play a role in treating some sarcoma patients, escalations of treatment are unlikely to be tolerable, nor will they prolong survival, said the researchers. "There is a great need for new agents to treat sarcomas and improve patient outcomes," said Dr. Altiok. "Toxicity from radiation and chemotherapy is high and response rates for patients with sarcomas are modest, with improvement and survival negligible." Sarcomas are cancers that result from transformed cells in one of a number of tissues that develop from embryonic mesoderm. Sarcomas include tumors of bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, vascular and hematopoetic tissues. Sarcomas are different from carcinomas that originate in epithelial cells and result in more common cancers, such as breast, colon, and lung cancers. Researchers from Moffitt's Experimental Therapeutics Program and the Sarcoma Program collaborated in testing MK1775's ability to inhibit Wee1, a nuclear kinase known to be a regulator of cell size and an initiator of cell division, or mitosis. Wee1 is known to play a role in determining the timepoint at which mitosis begins.
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