Find could aid in response predictions

A molecular signature that helps account for the aggressive behavior of some cancers may also predict the likelihood of successful treatment with a particular anti-cancer drug.

Researchers at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center report the discovery of a surface receptor on certain tumor cells that can activate a key enzyme making a tumor more aggressive. This enzyme is also the target of the anti-cancer drug dasatinib, which blocks its activity and is approved for treating chronic myelogenous leukemia. Therefore, the presence of the receptor on more common solid tumors (such as breast, colon, lung and pancreas) could help identify individuals also likely to respond to the drug and lead to a personalized treatment approach. The results appear in the journal Nature Medicine.

Circulating Cancer Cells

Most cancer-related deaths are caused by metastases - the spread of cancer to other parts of the body - and tumor cells that circulate in the bloodstream are generally understood to be the cause of dangerous secondary tumors. Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute and collaborators have, for the first time, determined the structural features of circulating tumor cells, collected from the blood of a woman with advanced lung cancer.

Most current technologies for identifying cancer cells in the bloodstream do not allow for much cell detail and, heretofore, published descriptions and images of tumor cells retrieved from the bloodstream were nonexistent. Having the ability to detect and characterize circulating tumor cells may provide new insight into their metastatic potential as well as advance disease diagnosis, treatment, and management. The study is the cover article in the September edition of the journal Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

County’s greenest building

The San Elijo Nature Center has been recognized by the U.S. Green Business Council as the “greenest” public building in San Diego County. The nature center is the first local government building to receive a LEED Platinum certification, the business council’s highest ranking for sustainable design. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.)

Open to the public since January, the two-story, 5,525-square-foot structure incorporates a high percentage of recycled block, steel, rebar and glass. The San Elijo Nature Center is at 2710 Manchester Ave. in Cardiff.

Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.