Could old drugs target lung cancer in a new way?

February 23, 2017

Dr. Doug Gray received a $196,000 grant from a partnership of the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute and Canadian Institutes of Health Research to investigate new ways to prevent lung cancer from spreading. By the time most patients with lung cancer are diagnosed, the cancer has already spread (or metastasized) to other parts of the body, and in 40 percent of cases it has spread to their brain. Even with aggressive treatments these patients usually only survive for a year. Dr. Gray hopes to help patients live longer by finding ways to interfere with how lung cancer invades the rest of the body. To do this, he will focus on an enzyme called USP4, which was discovered by his team. USP4 is involved in the complex biological decision of whether a cell will divide, grow old or be killed off. It also helps regulate a pathway that is abnormally active in metastatic cells. Dr. Gray’s team will determine whether drugs approved for other purposes can block USP4 activity, making them prime candidates to prevent the spread of lung cancer.

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