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New Strategies: Knowing and Understanding Cancer Better

Valérie Devillaine
04/14/2018
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Progress in immunology and genomics have revealed new ways of fighting cancers. Proof with three studies presented by Institut Curie at the annual congress of the American Association for Cancer Research.
AACR - espoirs pour les traitements du cancer de demain

Cervical cancers: initial results of a prospective study

Germany, the Netherlands, Serbia, Moldavia, Romania, Hungary and France all joined efforts to identify innovative therapeutic avenues against cervical cancers with the European RAIDs project coordinated by Dr Suzy Scholl at Institut Curie. BioRAIDs is the first European prospective study with sample collection and molecular analyses. Maud Kamal, Head of Science at Institut Curies, will be presenting the initial results of this study started in 2012 in 7 European countries thanks to European Commission funding (6 million Euros). Conducted on around one hundred patients, the data are consolidated and enriched by other work on American, Norwegian and Mexican patients. It thus appears that the rate of mutations and the expression profiles of the proteins observed in the RAIDs study are very similar to those observed in the United States, whereas genetic anomalies are more numerous in Norwegian and Mexican patients. The RAIDs study also revealed anomalies on the MLL2 and MLL3 genes, adds Maud Kamal. This is interesting as these genes are involved in epigenetic regulations which could be the target for personalized treatments. In total, the RAIDs prospective study has accurate clinical data from 419 patients, monitored over 18 months in 18 different centers, which hints at other results to come.

 

 

Phototherapy against Retinoblastoma

New ways of fighting cancer are still appearing, usually used in addition to traditional treatments. This is the case for photodynamic therapy, which consists of amplifying the effectiveness of some drugs under the effect of light. For twenty or so years, a group of molecules known as porphyrins, which can be activated by light, have shown to be very effective in such tumor treatments. Scientists at Institut Curie envisaged using this strategy against retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eye that affects young children. To do so, they synthesized a new molecule, TPP, a cousin of porphyrin. Keyvan Rezai, a pharmacologist, was able to determine the optimal time between injection of the TPP in an animal and the administration of the light treatment which activates it so that the quantity of TPP is maximum in the eye. Scientists also demonstrated the absence of in vitro toxicity of this molecule, and the effectiveness of the treatment on samples of human tumor transplanted into animals. New crucial steps have thus been taken in developing this future treatment.

Uveal Melanoma: Hope for Targeted Treatments

Institut Curie is a leading center in the treatment of uveal melanoma, another eye tumor, most frequently occurring in adults. At a metastatic stage, the prognosis for this cancer remains very poor. Some recent genomics discoveries on these cancers however, have revealed the possibility of using some targeted treatments. “Several mutations have been identified in several pathways and we need to act on different levels to counter the mechanisms of resistance to treatments”, explains Didier Decaudin, author of these results. Within the framework of a partnership with the laboratory AstraZeneca, Institut Curie has just tested new combinations of treatments on human intraocular melanomas transplanted into animals. It thus appears potentially interesting to combine various targeted treatments, such as selumetinib, AZ6197 and AZD2014 that block various signaling pathways affected by the disease and offering promising new therapeutic approaches to control the illness. “It is now up to the doctors to take over and put together the necessary conditions to implement a clinical trial using such a strategy”, he concludes.