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Scientists Find Combo Drugs that Kill Lung Cancer

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There is hope for lung cancer sufferers worldwide as a breakthrough research has found that the use of two existing drugs could successfully treat the disease.

 

The study delves deep into the molecular survival kit of lung tumours.

 

Many cancer deaths are driven by the KRAS oncogene. KRAS is an essential gene, but in its mutant form, it is an important step in the generation of many types of cancer.

 

For over 30 years, the KRAS oncogene has been a focus of research. Finding a way to remove its teeth would be pivotal in the treatment of a range of cancers.

 

As part of this effort, rather than targeting the gene directly, some scientists have focused on pathways that are related to the errant gene.

 

One pathway of interest centres on insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). This pathway helps to regulate the uptake of nutrients into the cell, providing it with the energy and raw ingredients it needs to grow.

 

If the tumour cell’s fuel supply could be severed, its onward march might be halted. However, it is not clear whether KRAS oncogenes are reliant on this particular pathway, and, in clinical trials, results have not been encouraging.

 

In fact, one study in mice found that lung tumours actually became more aggressive after the pathway was suppressed.

 

Attacking KRAS-related pathways

Undeterred, a team from the Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts used a fresh approach. In the mouse study mentioned above, the insulin/IGF-1 signalling pathway was only partially closed off. In the latest study, though, a genetic technique was used that shut it down entirely.

 

To do this, the scientists crossed two strains of genetically modified mice. The first is a well-used model for KRAS-driven lung cancer, and the other is a mouse used to study diabetes that lacks insulin/IGF-1 signalling.

 

In the diabetes mouse model, the insulin/IGF-1 pathway is unshackled by the deletion of two genes: Irs1 and Irs2. These encode “adaptor” proteins, which are essential for the smooth running of the insulin/IGF-1 pathway.

 

“Our study uses a robust way to block insulin/IGF-1 signalling and addresses a long-standing question in KRAS-mutant lung cancer. When you use genetics, results can be more conclusive,” said senior study author Nada Kalaany, Ph.D, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

 

Using their new model, the scientists demonstrated that by suppressing the two adaptor proteins, insulin/IGF-1 signalling is blocked and lung tumours are significantly suppressed:

 

“Almost all animals in this lung cancer model typically die within 15 weeks of KRAS activation,” says Kalaany. “But, the ones that lost both Irs1 and Irs2 were completely fine — we saw almost no tumours at 10 to 15 weeks.”

 

This finding is important because drugs that block insulin/IGF-1 signalling are already in use and freely available.

 

The results are published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While the preliminary findings are hopeful, the researchers knew that there was more work to be done; cancer is a complex, ever-morphing disease with a terrifying knack for circumventing medical interventions.

 

Outfoxing lung cancer

To observe whether the cancer cells were able to navigate around this new roadblock, the team let the animals live longer to see what happened next.

 

As Kalaany explains, “Sure enough, at around 16 weeks, we started seeing some tumours. So, then we asked, how were these tumour cells able to overcome loss of Irs1 and Irs2?”

 

The answer was found in the levels of essential cellular building blocks: amino acids. Tumour cells lacking the adaptor proteins failed to move amino acids into their cells, despite a plentiful supply outside of the cell.

 

“Growth factors, like IGF-1, tell cells that nutrients are around,” says Kalaany, “so when you suppress their signalling, the tumour cells don’t take up the amino acids and think they are starved.”

 

“But we found that the tumour cells can compensate for this and break down their own proteins to generate amino acids.”

 

So, the KRAS-driven tumours threw out a curve ball: they had, once again, figured out a workaround. By breaking themselves down — in a process known as autophagy — they can generate the raw material they need to thrive.

 

The researchers, however, were one step ahead.

 

Heading cancer off at the pass

Drugs that inhibit protein breakdown are already available. These include chloroquine, which is currently involved in a number of cancer drug trials, and bortezomib, which blocks proteasomes (protein-digesting structures) and is already used to treat myeloma.

 

When the two prongs of the attack were combined, the results were more than encouraging. They found that tumour cells lacking Irs1 and Irs2 did not grow well, and, when the inhibitors were added, growth stopped almost completely.

 

Additional studies will now be needed to understand how these two drug types might interact in a patient. However, this is a considerable breakthrough, and the researchers are excited to take it to the next phase.

 

“Our work tries to identify metabolic dependencies and vulnerabilities in tumours,” says Kalaany. “If we identify collaborators, we would love to have a clinical trial in non-small-cell lung cancer combining IGF-1 inhibitors with autophagy inhibitors or proteasome inhibitors.”

 

By testing to breaking point every part of a tumour cell’s survival kit, researchers will, one day, beat cancer.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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FG, Korea To Unveil Phase-2 Of ICT Project

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The Federal Government and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) are concluding arrangements to launch second phase of partnership in ICT that would develop experts and highly skilled labor in information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Nigeria.

This was disclosed yesterday when a delegation from the KOICA office, led by its  Country Director, Sook Hyun Park paid a courtesy visit to the Ministry of Communications, Abuja.

The country Director said that, South Korean government through KOICA has enjoyed a strong partnership with Federal Ministry of Communications in its e-government capacity building project for the past 7 years.

“Our first e-government project which has existed for the past 7 years with a strong partnership with Federal Ministry of Communications would be concluded next year. We shall keep our effort and support to Nigeria. E-government in the 2nd project which  we plan to embark  upon, we are interested in developing human skilled labor in ICT areas hence, the need for the Minister to share his expertise and ideas that would be of good direction to the Federal Government ”, the Director stated.

Sook Hyun stated that KOICA’s visit to the Ministry of Communications was aimed at introducing the agency’s upcoming project (phase 2) being worked towards year 2020 and beyond, following the conclusion of the introductory (first phase) which would be concluded by 2019.

In his contribution, Headquarter Coordinator, An Kwangsoo, said KOICA as an agency was set to move from the introductory part of its partnership project which was focused on e-government capacity building, scholarship for masters and PHD Degrees in Korean Universities for Nigerians to a bigger phase in order to assist Nigeria in achieving the implementation of her e-government master plan.

In his remarks, the Minister of Communications, Dr. Adebayo Shittu thanked KOICA on behalf of the Federal Government, for generously investing so much towards the development of Nigeria, particularly in areas of e-government and capacity building.

The Minister said that, Federal Government cannot take KOICA’s selfless cooperation for granted and urged them to sustain the smooth relationship that is being enjoyed by both parties in service to humanity.

He urged the Agency to meet with the Ministry’s e-government department to work together for a very beneficial launch of the 2nd phase of broader partnership between the federal government and the Republic of Korea via KOICA.

In the new phase, Shittu urged the Agency to make conscientious efforts to ensure at least 100,000 civil servants are trained annually, to improve Nigeria’s system of operations to be more effective and efficient.

He also appealed to them to collaborate with the Nigerian Universities by sending technology gurus from the Korean universities to impart technological ideas and knowledge to students in Nigeria who shall in turn train others.

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MTN Smart Survey a Smart Way to get Customer’s Insight

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There’s nothing more important than the opinion of the masses when it comes to marketing or business positioning.

 

After all, without the approval and buy-in of the public, it would be hard to get any product or concept off the ground.

L-R: General Manager, Customer Experience, MTN Nigeria, Kolawole Oyeyemi; General Manager, Enterprise Marketing, MTN Nigeria, Onyinye Ikenna-Emeka and Customer Enablement, MTN Nigeria, Ladipo Nylander at the launch of MTN Smart Survey, an effective tool for customer insight which held on Monday, December 10, 2018

 

Market/consumer surveys provide detailed insights into competitors, and aid in understanding customers’ preferences & discomforts.

 

Consumer surveys are used in analysing latest market trends, consumer buying patterns, economic shifts, and demographics.

 

Useful as these surveys may be, many businesses are unable to obtain the insights they need from them for business decisions.

General Manager, Customer Experience, MTN Nigeria, Kolawole Oyeyemi taking guests through a presentation tagged ‘mobile survey as an effective tool for customer insight and optimal value propositioning’.

 

In response to this challenge, MTN Nigeria has just launched a business tool, MTN Smart Survey to enable smart business owners to leverage on market research in developing effective strategies for business growth.

 

MTN Smart Survey, which is offered in collaboration with Communication and Marketing Research Group Limited (CMRG), provides an electronic medium for conduct and administration of surveys specifically targeted to a group of MTN subscribers.

Guests at the launch

The service offers survey delivery through the USSD channel to subscribers that have been profiled based on specific attributes, such as age, gender, location, etc.

 

The launch of the new solution had in attendance dignitaries from various business sectors in Nigeria who had a firsthand experience of the platform and its functionalities.

Guests at the launch

 

The new business tool has also been designed to reward customers with N100 MTN airtime upon completion of questions administered through the survey.

 

MTN Nigeria continues to seek ways to contribute to the Nigerian economy by extending its partnership capabilities to brighten the lives of business owners within the country.

 

 

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Heirs Holdings Inks $600m Facility Deal with Afrexim Bank, to Scale its Energy Investments.

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K-r: chairman, Heirs Holdings Group, Mr. Tony Elumelu and President of African Export-Import Bank(Afreximbank), Dr. Benedict Oramah, during the signing of $600 million Facility Deal between Afreximbank and Heirs Holdings Group to scale Heirs Holding’s Energy Investments in Africa…….. in Cairo, Egypt on Tuesday

African Export-Import Bank’s (Afrexim), has signed financing facilities totalling US$600 million with the Heirs Holdings Group, a pan-African proprietary investment holding company.

 

This is as a further demonstration of the African Export-Import Bank’s mandate to facilitate the growth of intra-Africa trade and support the development of African businesses,

 

Heirs Holdings has significant investments across Africa, in the financial services, resources, real estate and hospitality and power sectors.

 

The facilities will further support the Group’s power, oil and gas strategy, as it positions itself as an African leader in integrated natural resources.

 

The signing ceremony took place at the Afrexim Intra-Africa Trade Conference taking place in Cairo, Egypt.

 

The proceeds of the facilities will assist the Heirs Holdings Group vision of creating a dynamic resource based division, focused on ensuring value creation occurs on the African continent and that value chains are developed, that directly benefit the broader African economy and consumer.

 

Commenting at the ceremony, Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of Afrexim who signed on behalf of the Bank, stated that the investment by Heirs Holdings would play a key role in addressing some of the fundamental challenges that have affected the power and energy sectors in Africa. He stated that “A world class energy sector is fundamental to the sustainable growth of businesses in Africa. If we do not deal with these basic matters, growth of trade and exports will always be limited”.

 

Mr. Tony Elumelu, chairman of Heirs Holdings, commented that “We are delighted to be partnering with Afrexim. The Bank continues to play a critical role in the economic and social development of the continent. Together, we illustrate that Africa can create world class institutions, which are capable of successfully making the long-term investments necessary for Africa’s economic transformation and catalyse the enabling environment that will unleash Africa’s potential”.

 

 

 

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