By studying the protien produced by ras, a gene implicated in almost one-third of all cancers, Duke University Medical Center researchers believe they may have found a new target for anti-cancer drugs.
“Since it has been so difficult to target the ras gene itself with drugs, we tried to determine if something that ras activates could be a possible target for a drug or therapy,” explains Christopher Counter, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and cancer biology and senior member of the research team.
The researchers discovered that in cell cultures and animal models the overactive ras gene was responsible for above-normal secretion of interleukin-6 (IL-6). They also found that inhibiting IL-6 production reduced the creation of new blood vessels.
Dr. Counter’s group is pursuing the idea that such an antibody may inhibit pancreatic cancer growth in mouse models.
The results of the Duke experiments were published July 15 in Genes & Development.