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News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have identified the cells that directly give rise to hair as well as the mechanism that causes hair to turn gray – findings that could one day help identify possible treatments for balding and hair graying. “Although this project was started in an effort to understand how certain kinds of tumors form, we ended up learning why hair turns gray and discovering the identity of the cell that directly gives rise to hair,” said Lu Le, associate professor of dermatology with the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern. “With this knowledge, we hope in the future to create a topical compound or to safely deliver the necessary gene to hair follicles to correct these cosmetic problems.” The researchers found that a protein called KROX20, more commonly associated with nerve development, in this case turns on in skin cells that become the hair shaft. These hair precursor, or progenitor, cells then produce a protein called stem cell factor (SCF) that the researchers showed is essential for hair pigmentation. When they deleted the SCF gene in the hair progenitor cells in mouse models, the animal’s hair turned white. When they deleted the KROX20-producing cells, no hair grew and the mice became bald, according to the study. Le, who holds the Thomas L. Shields, M.D. Professorship in Dermatology, said he and his researchers serendipitously uncovered this explanation for balding and hair graying while studying a disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 1, a rare genetic disease that causes tumors to grow on nerves. Scientists already knew that stem cells contained in a bulge area of hair follicles are involved in making hair and that SCF is important for pigmented cells, said Le, a member of the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine. What they did not know in detail is what happens after those stem cells move down to the base, or bulb, of hair follicles and which cells in the hair follicles produce SCF – or that cells involved in hair shaft creation make the KROX20 protein, he said. If cells with functioning KROX20 and SCF are present, they move up from the bulb, interact with pigment-producing melanocyte cells, and grow into pigmented hairs. But without SCF, the hair in mouse models was gray, and then turned white with age, according to the study. Without KROX20-producing cells, no hair grew, the study said. UT Southwestern researchers will now try to find out if the KROX20 in cells and the SCF gene stop working properly as people age, leading to the graying and hair thinning seen in older people – as well as in male pattern baldness, Le said. The research also could provide answers about why we age in general as hair graying and hair loss are among the first signs of aging.


News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have identified the cells that directly give rise to hair as well as the mechanism that causes hair to turn gray – findings that could one day help identify possible treatments for balding and hair graying. “Although this project was started in an effort to understand how certain kinds of tumors form, we ended up learning why hair turns gray and discovering the identity of the cell that directly gives rise to hair,” said Lu Le, associate professor of dermatology with the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern. “With this knowledge, we hope in the future to create a topical compound or to safely deliver the necessary gene to hair follicles to correct these cosmetic problems.” The researchers found that a protein called KROX20, more commonly associated with nerve development, in this case turns on in skin cells that become the hair shaft. These hair precursor, or progenitor, cells then produce a protein called stem cell factor (SCF) that the researchers showed is essential for hair pigmentation. When they deleted the SCF gene in the hair progenitor cells in mouse models, the animal’s hair turned white. When they deleted the KROX20-producing cells, no hair grew and the mice became bald, according to the study. Le, who holds the Thomas L. Shields, M.D. Professorship in Dermatology, said he and his researchers serendipitously uncovered this explanation for balding and hair graying while studying a disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 1, a rare genetic disease that causes tumors to grow on nerves. Scientists already knew that stem cells contained in a bulge area of hair follicles are involved in making hair and that SCF is important for pigmented cells, said Le, a member of the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine. What they did not know in detail is what happens after those stem cells move down to the base, or bulb, of hair follicles and which cells in the hair follicles produce SCF – or that cells involved in hair shaft creation make the KROX20 protein, he said. If cells with functioning KROX20 and SCF are present, they move up from the bulb, interact with pigment-producing melanocyte cells, and grow into pigmented hairs. But without SCF, the hair in mouse models was gray, and then turned white with age, according to the study. Without KROX20-producing cells, no hair grew, the study said. UT Southwestern researchers will now try to find out if the KROX20 in cells and the SCF gene stop working properly as people age, leading to the graying and hair thinning seen in older people – as well as in male pattern baldness, Le said. The research also could provide answers about why we age in general as hair graying and hair loss are among the first signs of aging.


News Article | May 9, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

DALLAS - May 8, 2017 - UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers found in a recent phase one clinical trial that stereotactic partial breast radiation was as safe as traditional radiation but decreased treatment time from six weeks to just days. UT Southwestern's Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only site in Texas and one of a few in the world to offer stereotactic partial breast radiation treatment to early-stage breast cancer patients. "Standard breast cancer treatments are delivered daily to the entire breast area over three to six weeks. We sought to deliver partial breast radiation in a noninvasive way, using precise image-guided stereotactic radiation," said Dr. Asal Rahimi, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology and first author of the study. "Our trial decreased treatment time to just five treatments delivered every other day." Seventy-five patients were studied from 2010-2016, in whom stereotactic partial breast radiation demonstrated both outstanding tumor control and excellent cosmetic results. Patients in the trial had been recently diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. The study is published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics and was funded by a grant from Accuray, producers of the Cyberknife used to deliver stereotactic partial breast radiation. One of the trial participants is Dr. Rahimi's patient Leslie LeBlanc, a dental hygienist and resident of Arlington, Texas. Mrs. LeBlanc was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer four years ago at age 47. Her daughter had just started college and her son was in high school. "The same day that I got the diagnosis was mother's weekend for my daughter at college. I drove straight to Austin and told her the news," said Mrs. LeBlanc, who recalled the shock of being diagnosed. "It's like you're in the eye of a hurricane. Everything is buzzing around you, but you can't do anything but what they ask you to do, or tell you is the best option." While no genetic link has been established, her two sisters had previously been diagnosed with breast cancer, so the family had some experience with the disease. Mrs. LeBlanc was already in a risk assessment program at UT Southwestern and had mammograms and MRIs every six months, which helped catch her disease early. "It was overwhelming to consider doing several weeks of daily radiation while trying to work fulltime, be with my family, and do everything that I needed to do. This treatment option was so much better. I only missed a few days from work," said Mrs. LeBlanc, who is looking forward to reaching her 5-year mark as a survivor next year. "Mrs. LeBlanc is a working woman, a mom, and a wife. She's a great example of many women that will be impacted by this disease," said Dr. Rahimi. "We wanted to make this treatment more convenient for patients, because cancer is never convenient." The researchers plan continued studies of the partial breast radiation technique. "As technology improves, we will detect more early-stage breast cancers." said Dr. Robert Timmerman, Professor of Radiation Oncology and senior author on the study. "Patients with these early cancers might particularly benefit from a local therapy approach that both minimizes the normal tissue exposure while improving the convenience for patients who already lead hectic lives." According to the National Cancer Institute, 252,710 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. When breast cancer is found early before it has spread, the patient has an improved chance of surviving five years after being diagnosed. For breast cancer I females, 61.8 percent are diagnosed at the local stage. The 5-year survival for localized breast cancer in women is 98.9 percent. Stereotactic partial breast radiation is delivered with the latest generation CyberKnife, one of several technologies in UT Southwestern's newly opened $66 million, 63,000-square-foot Radiation Oncology facility. The new facility houses a comprehensive mix of UT Southwestern's best cancer treatment technologies and medical expertise under one roof, and has dedicated areas for each major disease site such as brain, breast, and gastrointestinal cancer. Additional UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study include: Dr. Ann Spangler, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology; Dr. Roshni Rao, Associate Professor of Surgery; Dr. Marilyn Leitch, Professor of Surgery; Dr. Rachel Wooldridge, Assistant Professor of Surgery; Dr. Aeisha Rivers, Assistant Professor of Surgery; Dr. Stephen Seiler, Assistant Professor of Radiology; Dr. Kevin Albuquerque, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology; Dr. Sally Goudreau, Professor of Radiology; Dr. Barbara Haley, Professor of Internal Medicine; Dr. David Euhus, (former faculty); Dr. Chuxiong Ding, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology; and Dr. Chul Ahn, Professor of Clinical Sciences. Dr. Timmerman holds the Effie Marie Cain Distinguished Chair in Cancer Therapy Research. Dr. Leitch holds the S.T. Harris Family Distinguished Chair in Breast Surgery, in Honor of A. Marilyn Leitch, M.D. Dr. Haley holds the Charles Cameron Sprague, M.D., Chair in Clinical Oncology. The Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in North Texas and one of just 47 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center includes 13 major cancer care programs. In addition, the Center's education and training programs support and develop the next generation of cancer researchers and clinicians. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center is among only 30 U.S. cancer research centers to be designated by the NCI as a National Clinical Trials Network Lead Academic Participating Site. UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution's faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, 600,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.


News Article | May 8, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

May 5, 2017 - UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have identified the cells that directly give rise to hair as well as the mechanism that causes hair to turn gray - findings that could one day help identify possible treatments for balding and hair graying. "Although this project was started in an effort to understand how certain kinds of tumors form, we ended up learning why hair turns gray and discovering the identity of the cell that directly gives rise to hair," said Dr. Lu Le, Associate Professor of Dermatology with the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern. "With this knowledge, we hope in the future to create a topical compound or to safely deliver the necessary gene to hair follicles to correct these cosmetic problems." The researchers found that a protein called KROX20, more commonly associated with nerve development, in this case turns on in skin cells that become the hair shaft. These hair precursor, or progenitor, cells then produce a protein called stem cell factor (SCF) that the researchers showed is essential for hair pigmentation. When they deleted the SCF gene in the hair progenitor cells in mouse models, the animal's hair turned white. When they deleted the KROX20-producing cells, no hair grew and the mice became bald, according to the study. The findings are published online in Genes & Development. Dr. Le, who holds the Thomas L. Shields, M.D. Professorship in Dermatology, said he and his researchers serendipitously uncovered this explanation for balding and hair graying while studying a disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 1, a rare genetic disease that causes tumors to grow on nerves. Scientists already knew that stem cells contained in a bulge area of hair follicles are involved in making hair and that SCF is important for pigmented cells, said Dr. Le, a member of the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine. What they did not know in detail is what happens after those stem cells move down to the base, or bulb, of hair follicles and which cells in the hair follicles produce SCF - or that cells involved in hair shaft creation make the KROX20 protein, he said. If cells with functioning KROX20 and SCF are present, they move up from the bulb, interact with pigment-producing melanocyte cells, and grow into pigmented hairs. But without SCF, the hair in mouse models was gray, and then turned white with age, according to the study. Without KROX20-producing cells, no hair grew, the study said. UT Southwestern researchers will now try to find out if the KROX20 in cells and the SCF gene stop working properly as people age, leading to the graying and hair thinning seen in older people - as well as in male pattern baldness, Dr. Le said. The research also could provide answers about why we age in general as hair graying and hair loss are among the first signs of aging. Other researchers include first author Dr. Chung-Ping Liao, Assistant Instructor; Dr. Sean Morrison, Professor and Director of the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern and of Pediatrics, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, who holds the Kathryne and Gene Bishop Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Research at Children's Research Institute at UT Southwestern and the Mary McDermott Cook Chair in Pediatric Genetics; and Reid Booker, a former UT Southwestern researcher. The research was supported by the National Cancer Institute, Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant, National Institutes of Health, the Dermatology Foundation, the Children's Tumor Foundation, and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution's faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, 600,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year.


News Article | May 24, 2017
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

Patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) often respond to standard chemotherapy, only to develop drug resistance later, and with fatal consequences. But what if doctors could identify those at greatest risk of relapse and provide a therapy to overcome or avoid it? Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center believe they have an answer: a 35-gene signature that identifies tumor cells most likely to develop resistance to treatment. The study, published today in Cell Reports, points to a new pharmacologic approach to target chemo-resistant lung cancer and even prevent development of such resistance in the first place. "Cancer relapse after chemotherapy poses a major obstacle to treating lung cancer, and resistance to chemotherapy is a big cause of that treatment failure," said study co-author Dr. John Minna, a Professor and Director of in the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research at UT Southwestern. "These findings provide new insights into why resistance develops and how to overcome it." Dr. Minna, with additional appointments in Pharmacology and Internal Medicine, also holds the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research and the Max L. Thomas Distinguished Chair in Molecular Pulmonary Oncology. Investigators studied mouse and cellular models of NSCLC, a type of lung cancer that the American Cancer Society estimates accounts for 85 percent of all lung cancer cases in the United States. "Previous studies have shown that up to 70 percent of those cancers develop resistance to standard therapy, such as the platinum-taxane two-drug combo that is often given," said study senior author Dr. Elisabeth D. Martinez, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and in the Hamon Center. Both she and Dr. Minna are also members of UTSW's Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. Using long-term on/off drug cycles, lead author and former postdoctoral researcher Dr. Maithili Dalvi developed a series of cellular models of progressive tumor resistance to standard chemotherapy that ranged from very sensitive to highly insensitive. Next, the researchers identified genes commonly altered during the development of resistance across multiple cell line and mouse models and identified a 35-gene signature that indicated a higher genetic likelihood of chemotherapy resistance. "It's like a fingerprint for resistance," Dr. Martinez said, adding that it was predictive in both cells and mouse models. Next they compared this resistance biomarker using genetic profiles from human tumors in their National Cancer Institute (NCI) lung cancer Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) database at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The database contained information on patient outcomes and those who had been treated with the two-drug chemotherapy. The genetic fingerprint for resistance correlated with cancer relapse in NSCLC patients in the database, she said. Researchers discovered that as cancer cells developed greater resistance to chemotherapy, they progressively made higher amounts of enzymes called JumonjiC lysine demethylases. Dr. Martinez said these enzymes facilitate resistance by changing the expression of - or turning on and off - genes. "Cancer cells use these enzymes to change, or reprogram, gene expression in order to survive the toxic stress of the chemotherapy. By changing the expression of genes, the tumor cells can adapt and survive the toxins," she said. Investigators then tested two potential drugs, both JumonjiC inhibitors. One of them, JIB-04, was found by UT Southwestern researchers in the Martinez lab during a small-molecule screen conducted at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences' Chemical Genomics Center in Bethesda, Maryland. "I believe this is the first report of NSCLC tumors taking advantage of multiple JumonjiC enzymes to reprogram gene expression in order to survive chemotoxic stress. In addition, and this is the most fascinating part: Dr. Dalvi found that greater chemotherapy resistance defines a new susceptibility to the JumonjiC inhibitors," she said. "The cancer cells develop a new Achilles' heel that we can hit." Because the chemo-resistant cancer cells are dependent on JumonjiC enzymes for survival, inhibiting those enzymes returns cancer cells to mortality and vulnerability to cell death, she explained. "We think these JumonjiC inhibitors have the potential to be used either to treat tumors once they become resistant to standard therapies, or to prevent resistance altogether," she said. "In our experiments these inhibitors appear to be much more potent in killing cancer cells than normal cells." Later, researchers tested whether the Jumonji inhibitors JIB-04 or GSK-J4 prevented chemotherapy resistance. This strategy succeeded in cell cultures and partially prevented resistance in animal models, Dr. Martinez said.


News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) often respond to standard chemotherapy, only to develop drug resistance later, and with fatal consequences. But what if doctors could identify those at greatest risk of relapse and provide a therapy to overcome or avoid it? Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center believe they have an answer: a 35-gene signature that identifies tumor cells most likely to develop resistance to treatment. The study, published in Cell Reports, points to a new pharmacologic approach to target chemo-resistant lung cancer and even prevent development of such resistance in the first place. "Cancer relapse after chemotherapy poses a major obstacle to treating lung cancer, and resistance to chemotherapy is a big cause of that treatment failure," said study co-author Dr. John Minna, a Professor and Director of in the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research at UT Southwestern. "These findings provide new insights into why resistance develops and how to overcome it." Dr. Minna, with additional appointments in Pharmacology and Internal Medicine, also holds the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research and the Max L. Thomas Distinguished Chair in Molecular Pulmonary Oncology. Investigators studied mouse and cellular models of NSCLC, a type of lung cancer that the American Cancer Society estimates accounts for 85 percent of all lung cancer cases in the United States. "Previous studies have shown that up to 70 percent of those cancers develop resistance to standard therapy, such as the platinum-taxane two-drug combo that is often given," said study senior author Dr. Elisabeth D. Martinez, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and in the Hamon Center. Both she and Dr. Minna are also members of UTSW's Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. Using long-term on/off drug cycles, lead author and former postdoctoral researcher Dr. Maithili Dalvi developed a series of cellular models of progressive tumor resistance to standard chemotherapy that ranged from very sensitive to highly insensitive. Next, the researchers identified genes commonly altered during the development of resistance across multiple cell line and mouse models and identified a 35-gene signature that indicated a higher genetic likelihood of chemotherapy resistance. "It's like a fingerprint for resistance," Dr. Martinez said, adding that it was predictive in both cells and mouse models. Next they compared this resistance biomarker using genetic profiles from human tumors in their National Cancer Institute (NCI) lung cancer Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) database at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The database contained information on patient outcomes and those who had been treated with the two-drug chemotherapy. The genetic fingerprint for resistance correlated with cancer relapse in NSCLC patients in the database, she said. Researchers discovered that as cancer cells developed greater resistance to chemotherapy, they progressively made higher amounts of enzymes called JumonjiC lysine demethylases. Dr. Martinez said these enzymes facilitate resistance by changing the expression of -- or turning on and off -- genes. "Cancer cells use these enzymes to change, or reprogram, gene expression in order to survive the toxic stress of the chemotherapy. By changing the expression of genes, the tumor cells can adapt and survive the toxins," she said. Investigators then tested two potential drugs, both JumonjiC inhibitors. One of them, JIB-04, was found by UT Southwestern researchers in the Martinez lab during a small-molecule screen conducted at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences' Chemical Genomics Center in Bethesda, Maryland. "I believe this is the first report of NSCLC tumors taking advantage of multiple JumonjiC enzymes to reprogram gene expression in order to survive chemotoxic stress. In addition, and this is the most fascinating part: Dr. Dalvi found that greater chemotherapy resistance defines a new susceptibility to the JumonjiC inhibitors," she said. "The cancer cells develop a new Achilles' heel that we can hit." Because the chemo-resistant cancer cells are dependent on JumonjiC enzymes for survival, inhibiting those enzymes returns cancer cells to mortality and vulnerability to cell death, she explained. "We think these JumonjiC inhibitors have the potential to be used either to treat tumors once they become resistant to standard therapies, or to prevent resistance altogether," she said. "In our experiments these inhibitors appear to be much more potent in killing cancer cells than normal cells." Later, researchers tested whether the Jumonji inhibitors JIB-04 or GSK-J4 prevented chemotherapy resistance. This strategy succeeded in cell cultures and partially prevented resistance in animal models, Dr. Martinez said.


News Article | May 23, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

DALLAS - May 23, 2017 - Patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) often respond to standard chemotherapy, only to develop drug resistance later, and with fatal consequences. But what if doctors could identify those at greatest risk of relapse and provide a therapy to overcome or avoid it? Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center believe they have an answer: a 35-gene signature that identifies tumor cells most likely to develop resistance to treatment. The study, published today in Cell Reports, points to a new pharmacologic approach to target chemo-resistant lung cancer and even prevent development of such resistance in the first place. "Cancer relapse after chemotherapy poses a major obstacle to treating lung cancer, and resistance to chemotherapy is a big cause of that treatment failure," said study co-author Dr. John Minna, a Professor and Director of in the Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research at UT Southwestern. "These findings provide new insights into why resistance develops and how to overcome it." Dr. Minna, with additional appointments in Pharmacology and Internal Medicine, also holds the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research and the Max L. Thomas Distinguished Chair in Molecular Pulmonary Oncology. Investigators studied mouse and cellular models of NSCLC, a type of lung cancer that the American Cancer Society estimates accounts for 85 percent of all lung cancer cases in the United States. "Previous studies have shown that up to 70 percent of those cancers develop resistance to standard therapy, such as the platinum-taxane two-drug combo that is often given," said study senior author Dr. Elisabeth D. Martinez, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and in the Hamon Center. Both she and Dr. Minna are also members of UTSW's Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. Using long-term on/off drug cycles, lead author and former postdoctoral researcher Dr. Maithili Dalvi developed a series of cellular models of progressive tumor resistance to standard chemotherapy that ranged from very sensitive to highly insensitive. Next, the researchers identified genes commonly altered during the development of resistance across multiple cell line and mouse models and identified a 35-gene signature that indicated a higher genetic likelihood of chemotherapy resistance. "It's like a fingerprint for resistance," Dr. Martinez said, adding that it was predictive in both cells and mouse models. Next they compared this resistance biomarker using genetic profiles from human tumors in their National Cancer Institute (NCI) lung cancer Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) database at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The database contained information on patient outcomes and those who had been treated with the two-drug chemotherapy. The genetic fingerprint for resistance correlated with cancer relapse in NSCLC patients in the database, she said. Researchers discovered that as cancer cells developed greater resistance to chemotherapy, they progressively made higher amounts of enzymes called JumonjiC lysine demethylases. Dr. Martinez said these enzymes facilitate resistance by changing the expression of - or turning on and off - genes. "Cancer cells use these enzymes to change, or reprogram, gene expression in order to survive the toxic stress of the chemotherapy. By changing the expression of genes, the tumor cells can adapt and survive the toxins," she said. Investigators then tested two potential drugs, both JumonjiC inhibitors. One of them, JIB-04, was found by UT Southwestern researchers in the Martinez lab during a small-molecule screen conducted at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences' Chemical Genomics Center in Bethesda, Maryland. "I believe this is the first report of NSCLC tumors taking advantage of multiple JumonjiC enzymes to reprogram gene expression in order to survive chemotoxic stress. In addition, and this is the most fascinating part: Dr. Dalvi found that greater chemotherapy resistance defines a new susceptibility to the JumonjiC inhibitors," she said. "The cancer cells develop a new Achilles' heel that we can hit." Because the chemo-resistant cancer cells are dependent on JumonjiC enzymes for survival, inhibiting those enzymes returns cancer cells to mortality and vulnerability to cell death, she explained. "We think these JumonjiC inhibitors have the potential to be used either to treat tumors once they become resistant to standard therapies, or to prevent resistance altogether," she said. "In our experiments these inhibitors appear to be much more potent in killing cancer cells than normal cells." Later, researchers tested whether the Jumonji inhibitors JIB-04 or GSK-J4 prevented chemotherapy resistance. This strategy succeeded in cell cultures and partially prevented resistance in animal models, Dr. Martinez said. Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in this work were Dr. Luc Girard, Assistant Professor, Dr. Lei Wang, senior research associate, and Dr. Juan Bayo, postdoctoral researcher, all with the Hamon Center and of Pharmacology; Dr. Rahul Kollipara, a computational biologist in the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development; Hyunsil Park, a research associate, and Dr. Brenda Timmons, a research scientist, both of the Hamon Center; Paul Yenerall, graduate student; Dr. Yang Xie, Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences and of Bioinformatics; Dr. Adi F. Gazdar, Professor in the Hamon Center, the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Pathology and holder of the W. Ray Wallace Distinguished Chair in Molecular Oncology Research; and Dr. Ralf Kittler, Assistant Professor in the McDermott Center, Pharmacology, and the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center as well as a CPRIT Scholar and a John L. Roach Scholar in Biomedical Research. Researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and The Ohio State University College of Medicine also contributed. The study received support from the NCI, the Department of Defense, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), the Friends of the Cancer Center, The Welch Foundation, and an LLS Robert Arceci Scholar Award. UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution's faculty has received six Nobel Prizes, and includes 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 18 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. The faculty of more than 2,700 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide care in about 80 specialties to more than 100,000 hospitalized patients, 600,000 emergency room cases, and oversee approximately 2.2 million outpatient visits a year. This news release is available on our website at http://www. . To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via email, subscribe at http://www.


Researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center have developed a first-of-its-kind nanoparticle vaccine immunotherapy that targets several different cancer types. The nanovaccine consists of tumor antigens – tumor proteins that can be recognized by the immune system – inside a synthetic polymer nanoparticle. Nanoparticle vaccines deliver minuscule particulates that stimulate the immune system to mount an immune response. The goal is to help people’s own bodies fight cancer. “What is unique about our design is the simplicity of the single-polymer composition that can precisely deliver tumor antigens to immune cells while stimulating innate immunity. These actions result in safe and robust production of tumor-specific T cells that kill cancer cells,” said Dr. Jinming Gao, a Professor of Pharmacology and Otolaryngology in UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. A study outlining this research, published online in Nature Nanotechnology, reported that the nanovaccine had anti-tumor efficacy in multiple tumor types in mice. The research was a collaboration between the laboratories of study senior authors Dr. Gao and Dr. Zhijian “James” Chen, Professor of Molecular Biology and Director of the Center for Inflammation Research. The Center was established in 2015 to study how the body senses infection and to develop approaches to exploit this knowledge to create new treatments for infection, immune disorders, and autoimmunity. Typical vaccines require immune cells to pick up tumor antigens in a “depot system” and then travel to the lymphoid organs for T cell activation, Dr. Gao said. Instead, nanoparticle vaccines can travel directly to the body’s lymph nodes to activate tumor-specific immune responses. “For nanoparticle vaccines to work, they must deliver antigens to proper cellular compartments within specialized immune cells called antigen-presenting cells and stimulate innate immunity,” said Dr. Chen, also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and holder of the George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science. “Our nanovaccine did all of those things.” In this case, the experimental UTSW nanovaccine works by activating an adaptor protein called STING, which in turn stimulates the body’s immune defense system to ward off cancer. The scientists examined a variety of tumor models in mice: melanoma, colorectal cancer, and HPV-related cancers of the cervix, head, neck, and anogenital regions. In most cases, the nanovaccine slowed tumor growth and extended the animals’ lives. Other vaccine technologies have been used in cancer immunotherapy. However, they are usually complex – consisting of live bacteria or multiplex biological stimulants, Dr. Gao said. This complexity can make production costly and, in some cases, lead to immune-related toxicities in patients. With the emergence of new nanotechnology tools and increased understanding of polymeric drug delivery, Dr. Gao said, the field of nanoparticle vaccines has grown and attracted intense interest from academia and industry in the past decade. “Recent advances in understanding innate and adaptive immunity have also led to more collaborations between immunologists and nanotechnologists,” said Dr. Chen. “These partnerships are critical in propelling the rapid development of new generations of nanovaccines.” The investigative team is now working with physicians at UT Southwestern to explore clinical testing of the STING-activating nanovaccines for a variety of cancer indications. Combining nanovaccines with radiation or other immunotherapy strategies such as “checkpoint inhibition” can further augment their anti-tumor effectiveness. Study lead authors from UT Southwestern were Dr. Min Luo, research scientist; Dr. Hua Wang, Instructor of Molecular Biology; and Dr. Zhaohui Wang, postdoctoral fellow. Other UTSW researchers involved included graduate students Yang Li, Chensu Wang, Haocheng Cai, and Mingjian Du; Dr. Gang Huang, Instructor of Pharmacology and in the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center; Dr. Xiang Chen, research specialist; Dr. Zhigang Lu, Instructor of Physiology; Dr. Matthew Porembka, Assistant Professor of Surgery and a Dedman Family Scholar in Clinical Care; Dr. Jayanthi Lea, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and holder of the Patricia Duniven Fletcher Distinguished Professorship in Gynecological Oncology; Dr. Arthur Frankel, Professor of Internal Medicine and in the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Dr. Yang-Xin Fu, Professor of Pathology and Immunology, and holder of the Mary Nell and Ralph B. Rogers Professorship in Immunology. Their work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, a UTSW Small Animal Imaging Resource grant and a Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center support grant.

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