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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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Samsung in N65m Copyright Infringement Suit in Nigeria

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Eagle Eye Production Limited, an Abuja-based production company has slammed N65 million lawsuit against Samsung Nigeria and Ringier Media Nigeria Limited for allegedly using a part of its ‘Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge at Night’ video in a Galaxy S8 advert without authorization.

 

Samsung had, after receiving the lawsuit, claimed it had no knowledge of the creative process of the ad, as it outsourced the job to one Cheil Communications Nigeria Limited.

 

Cheil Communications, in turn, claimed it outsourced the job to Ringier Media Nigeria Limited.

 

At the first hearing on the lawsuit on May 3, before Justice Hassan of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, Ringier Media’s Counsel applied to strike out the suit, claiming that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit because Eagle Eye in suing Ringier Media omitted the word ‘media’ in its name.

 

Ringier Media also argued that the suit did not disclose a reasonable cause of action against it.

 

Mrs. Abimbola Akeredolu (SAN) however, prayed the court to dismiss Ringier Media’s application with substantial cost on the basis that the omission of the word media from Ringier Media’s name is “a misnomer” and that the suit disclosed a reasonable cause of action against Ringier Media.

 

The learned Silk also pointed out that the omission of the word “media” was infact caused by Ringier Media and its counsel who in various correspondences exchanged prior to the suit represented to Eagle Eye’s counsel that the full name of Ringier Media is Ringier Nigeria Limited instead of Ringer Media Nigeria Limited.

The learned Silk also pointed out that Ringer Media’s counsel also described its client’s name as Ringier Nigeria Limited in the conditional memorandum of appearance filed by the said counsel on Ringier Media’s behalf.

 

On the same day, Eagle Eye’s Counsel also moved an application to amend their Writ of Summons and other accompanying originating processes to reflect the proper name of Ringier Media.

 

Court proceedings were witnessed by a Newsroom correspondent when Justice Hassan gave his ruling on Monday, June 2, 2018.

 

On Ringer Media’s application to strike out the suit, the learned judge held on the first leg, that the omission can be treated as a misnomer and representatives for the plaintiffs are allowed to file an application for amendment.

 

“There is no kind of mistake or error which the court cannot correct, except it is intended to cause injustice to a party. The omission can be corrected without causing injustice to the other party,” he ruled.

 

The Learned judge also held on the second leg, that looking at certain paragraphs in Eagle Eye’s Statement of Claim, the court is satisfied that a reasonable cause of action has been disclosed against Ringier Media.

 

The learned judge thereafter dismissed Ringier Media’s application and awarded cost of N20,000 in favor of the Plaintiffs against Ringier Media.

 

On Eagle Eye Production’s application to amend, the learned judge ruled that representatives for Eagle Eye Production Limited were misled by Ringier Media.

 

He made references to the exhibits submitted by the legal counsel for the Eagle Eye, where it was established that Ringier Media Nigeria Limited described itself only as Ringier Nigeria in various correspondences. Thus, the learned judge reiterated as follows:

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ITB Nigeria Set to Complete its First Steel & Concrete Building

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ITB Nigeria Ltd, innovative construction company providing full and advanced integrated engineering and construction solutions in both private and public sectors, is set to complete its first steel & concrete building project, Azuri Peninsula, in Eko Atlantic City, Lagos state.

The Azuri Peninsula project, which began in early 2015, is a unique steel and concrete residential building project that consists of three sets of over 30 storey towers.

It offers a unique collection of four-bedroom luxury and super luxury apartments, two and four-bedroom stunning Marina Town houses as well as s six-bedroom simplex (penthouses).

Commenting on the project, Mr. Ramzi Chidiac, Managing Director of ITB Nigeria, said, “We are excited about this project because it’s our first composite structure created by a combination of steel and concrete to form a single element.

This helps to deliver performance that is more effective than when individual components are used together but not unified. This testifies to the excellent work that we do at ITB Nigeria.

We are focused on fully understanding the needs of our clients and delivering on our promises, regardless of the scale or complexity of the challenge at hand”.

Steel and concrete structures involve a mix of steel and concrete together to form a single element. The tensile capacity of the steel and the compressive capacity of the concrete results in a standard structure.

This gives rise to benefits like speed, performance and value. Additionally, concrete encasement protects the steel from buckling, corrosion and fire.

On his part, Engr. Emmanuel Adeyemi, QA/QC Coordinator, ITB Nigeria,  stated, ‘the uniqueness of composite structures is that it enhances speed of construction, performance and value.

Steel framing for a structure can be erected quickly and the pre-fabricated steel floor decks can be put in place immediately.

When cured, the concrete provides additional stiffness to the structure, making the structure one that can stand the test of time”.

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BoI Secures $750M Afreximbank Loan at Single Digits for MSMEs

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Bank of Industry (BoI) will be disbursing the $750 million (N250 billion) syndicated loan facility which she received from the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises at single digit interest rate.

Mr Olukayode Pitan, Managing Director, Bank of Industry, made this disclosure on the last day of the Afreximbank 25th Anniversary and Annual General Meeting during an interview with journalists in Abuja.

Pitan revealed that “the loan will be given to entrepreneurs in Nigeria for a period of between five and seven years, would enable the BoI bridge the funding gap for MSMEs which estimated at about N700 billion.”

This fund he said would be “given to companies operating in the creative industry, manufacturing and gender based businesses to help reduce the unemployment rate in the country and create wealth for small and medium scale entrepreneurs.

“We are looking at small, medium and large enterprises. We are looking at enterprises or companies that have a focus in using local raw materials, companies that generates that generates employment and bring down their cost of borrowing” he said.

Pitan stated that “the loan will be deployed at less than ten per cent interest per annum. We are working with the Central Bank of Nigeria so that the loan we will give to Nigerian businesses will be a longer term loan of between seven to eight years for the industrial sector.”

The landmark deal was signed off in the presence President Muhammadu Buhari who insisted on witnessing the agreement signing ceremony in Abuja because the N250 billion syndicated facility financed by 16 banks (among which are: Africa Export-Import Bank, the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development,  and British Arab Commercial Bank Plc and four Nigrrian banks based in the United Kingdom) is the single largest facility of its kind to be received by a Development Finance Institution (DFI) in Nigeria.

According to Pitan, “the idea is to support industries. What this loan allows us to do is, it gives additional N250 billion depending on the exchange rate that is used, between N230 billion to N250 billion to deploy to the industrial sector.

There is gap in the funding of the industrial sector, to the tune of N704 billion. This is our way to reduce that gap.”

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