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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 Moves to Adopt Policies, Legislation to Fight Cyber-crime

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The Federal Government has taken several steps through domestic policies and legislation as well as multilateral cooperation and collaboration to fight cybercrime ,  the Attorney-General of the Federation, (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami, (SAN) said.

Malami made the assertion yesterday in Abuja at a meeting with the delegation of the Council of Europe on an Initial Assessment Visit to Nigeria and inauguration of the Global Action on Cyber Crime Plus, (GLACY+), National Coordinating Team.

Malami, who was represented by the Director, Public Prosecutions, Mr Umar Mohammed said that the Cybercrime Act, 2015 outlined the legal and institutional framework needed to drive Nigeria’s preparedness to fight cybercrime.

The AGF who doubles as the Minister of Justice noted that in spite of the country’s efforts, there were still gaps in capacity building considering the fast evolving technological developments.

“It is in this light that we welcome this initial assessment visit to identify the priorities that criminal justice authorities in Nigeria have to face, to pinpoint which areas to cover through the capacity building action of the GLACY+ Project.

“This is through direct consultations with stakeholders and to formally inaugurate the requisite GLACY+ National Coordinating Team that will support the Council of Europe in the multi-sector coordination and implementation of the GLACY+ programme in Nigeria.”

According to him, the consultations will serve parties to further identify capacity building issues and challenges particularly in the areas of legislation, capacity of investigators, digital forensics personnel, prosecutors, judges and trainers.

On his part, Mr Matteo Lucchetti, the Project Manager, Cybercrime Programme Office

said that the delegation was in Nigeria to among other things, establish the national team.

“We are here to basically establish the national team in Nigeria to be the entry point for all activities to be developed in Nigeria and to assess the current criminal justice capacity in matters related to cybercrime.

“We will also access the needs of the country in order to prioritise the activities in the country in the order that will be most suitable.”

Lucchetti, who said that the project was co-funded by the European Commission and the Council of Europe added that it currently had 12 countries and would last until 2021.

The National Coordinator, Mr George-Maria Tyendezwa expressed appreciation for the confidence reposed in him and his team and pledged that the members would work to justify the confidence reposed in them.

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Lack of Funds Stops Nigerians from Getting e-ID cards ―NIMC boss

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Engr. Aliyu Aziz Abubakar, Director-General, National Identity Management Commission(NIMC), on Monday disclosed that most Nigerians are not getting the multipurpose e-ID cards despite enrolment into the national database due to funding constraints.

 

He said although, the founding laws of the commission stipulated that a multi-purpose e-ID card is given as proof of its activities, it is incapacitated by the paucity of funds.

 

Engr. Abubakar, disclosed this in Abuja at a press briefing to kick start the 4th annual conference of the ID4Africa movement holding at the International Conference Center(ICC).

 

According to him, the commission is majorly focused on enrolment of Nigerians into the database, where enrollee would be issued with a National Identification Number (NIN).

 

He explained that the NIN is the major identity of an individual stressing that the commission currently cannot produce the e-IDcards for everyone.

 

In his words, “The focus is on NIN, the NIN gives you your identity. Historically we focus on the card to be an output of what we do.

 

“When we entered recession, we stepped back and check and we found out that in the US, the social security number is the one that connects all the other agencies, in the UK, it is National Insurance Number, in India where recently they enrolled about 1.4 billion people, they did not even give them a NIN slip but rather, they just gave them a number.

 

“That does not mean that card will not be given because it is there in the law that we should give a multipurpose card that is secured but it is difficult right now to produce for everyone because it is the best in the whole world,” he explained.

 

While reacting to questions of alleged partiality in the issuance of the e-ID cards, he said; “At NIMC, the focus is first come, first serve at least for 99 percent.

 

“It is people that have registered in 2012 and 2013 that have already gotten their cards.

 

“That does not mean that some people didn’t get recently but the focus is first come, first serve.”

 

He added that in the next three years, the commission will focus on the issuance of NIN rather than card saying the technique increased the number of enrollments from 5 million to 30 million.

 

“The focus now for the next three years will be on the number and not on the card. We have like five vendors in Lagos that can print these cards, it is to get the funding to ask them to print the cards.

 

“That is why we focus on enrolling people and then harmonizing their identity that is wDr. Joseph Atickhy we grew from 5 million to 30 million records but on the ID cards, we have not done much.”

 

Earlier, the Executive Chairman, ID4Africa,  said the event aims to bring together experts from across the country to discuss and learn about identity management.

 

Also, he disclosed that the conference will be launching a petition to the United Nations (UN) on adoption of September 16 as the international identity day.

 

He explained that if adopted, the day will be set aside for the celebration of identity across the world.

 

“Identity is an important aspect of human and once we get the UN approval, other countries will key into it. This is starting in Abuja tomorrow all the way to New York where other countries will vote,” he said.

 

 

 

 

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Systemspecs, Vodacom, VDT Join eBusiness Life Int’l Girls in ICT Day Celebration

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Information and Communications Technology Firms Systemspecs, Vodacom Business Nigeria, New Horizons and VDT Communications have signed on to be part of the forthcoming 7th Edition of the International Girls in ICT Day Celebration being organised by eBusiness Life Communication Limited, publishers of eBusiness Life Magazine in Lagos, Nigeria.

The event which is scheduled to hold on May 3, 2018 at Oriental Hotel in Lekki, is part of a global campaign to encourage young girls to delve into ICT as a profession and contribute their quota to the growth of the industry in Nigeria while also actualising self-development.

International Girls’ in ICT Day is an initiative launched through ITU Resolution 70 with the idea of creating a global environment that will empower and encourage girls and young women to consider careers in the field of information and communication technologies.

Systemspecs, with its flagship solution, Remita has been able to transform the e-payment arena in Nigeria, becoming a top choice for remittance of funds both in the private and public sectors of the economy. The company’s support for the campaign is stemmed on its belief in global competitiveness through manpower development.

Vodacom Business Nigeria is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Vodacom Group and leading pan-African corporate connectivity and telecommunications provider that has brought affordable and reliable connectivity to Africa since 1992.

A statement from VDT Communications, which operates a Modular Trainee Engineering Program through which it trains engineering graduates annually, notes that the quest to train young Nigerians is to increase their employability in the industry, especially young girls.

According to Mrs. Ufuoma Emuophedaro, Chief Executive Officer of eBusiness Life Communication and convener of the event, the need to sensitise young girls is premised on the fact that the society has unconsciously relegated the female gender and delegated careers in technical fields, especially in ICT, to their male counterparts.

She noted that efforts should be made to introduce young girls to career opportunities in technical fields in both the public and private sectors to help them have a wide range of options and contribute their quota in the industry.

Mrs Emuophedaro further stated that the International Girls in ICT Day celebration and subsequent campaign will further open up opportunities for girls in the ICT sector.

Speaking further, Mrs. Emuophedaro noted that supporting the global Girls in ICT movement empowers girls and young women, giving them the confidence to pursue ICT studies and careers. “Girls and young women have the potential not only to become ICT users, but also to become ICT creators. “

As part of the 2018 event, there will be Coding training at New Horizons, Nigeria and competitions among students from select secondary schools, roundtable discussion, interactive and motivational talk from renowned women ICT professionals, among others.

The campaign will see young girls take part in facility tours to ICT facilities; participate in seminars that promote ICT development and undergo trainings in ICT.

At the end of the event, it is expected that young girls and students should be able to introspect and pursue any desired career path in ICT without bias, or gender consciousness.

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