Italy – Airc Project: Cancer stem cells modified to combat the disease

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Sapienza University of Rome
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Taming the bad cancer stem cells, genetically modifying them to arm them against disease and cancer-from defusing the bomb. Bet on cell girls ‘GM’, transformed into cancer killer bullets, one of five projects funded by AIRC (Italian Association for Cancer Research) with 60 million in five years thanks to the funds of 5 per thousand.

Studies of molecular oncology clinic, chosen by a jury of 18 super-foreign experts, who share one big final goal: to train a new generation of physicians, researchers are able to bridge the gap between the lab bench and the bedside. In five years’ covered ‘by AIRC, each team winning scientists will have to’ get to test on humans.

The project will be cancer stem cell ‘led by Alessandro Massimo Gianni Foundation IRCCS National Cancer Institute (INT) in Milan. Will involve ’16 research groups (9 area of preclinical and clinical 7), for a total of 89′ brains’ (68 preclinical and 21 clinical) distributed Int universities’ State, IRCCS-University ‘Vita Salute San Raffaele in Milan, Istituto Superiore di Sanita ‘Rome and Istituto Giannina Gaslini in Genoa.

The idea, says John today in Milan, during the press presentation of the 5 winning projects, comes from the observation of a typical behavior of stem cells: “If we take those hematopoietic (blood cell precursors) and re-injected, these are straight in bone marrow. But if they are reinjected into the body has cancer, thanks to a capacity ‘innate (tropism) stem cells also goes into the tumor. Are ‘programmed’ to focus in sick, but once you arrive at “do nothing. In fact, end up producing substances that help the cancer grow and invade the body.

Here is the trick to be able to tame these stem ‘rebels’: “We will armiamo against cancer ‘and’ the mission of Abbott and colleagues. Using the principle of gene therapy (introducing a ‘brick’ more ‘in the DNA of the cell via a carrier such as a virus neutralization), “bring the stem cells to produce large amounts’ of a particular protein (TRAIL) can interact with receptors present on all tumor cells. By binding to these ‘switches’, the protein turns on the circuits that drive the diseased cell suicide (apoptosis in technical jargon).

On animals which have been reproduced conditions similar to those of a serious cancer metastases, the results seem very encouraging, “Some animals are healed,” witness John. “Now – precise – is to overcome the obstacles that, in studies like these, separate the man from the preclinical phase.
But in 2-3 years we hope to reach the clinical trial, which will involve all ‘twenty patients. ”

In addition to John (university studies in Milan and experience in the U.S. in St. Louis and at MIT in Boston), to lead the teams are funded by AIRC other 4 ‘coats’ with years of history behind Abroad: The Turin-Frederick Calligaris Cappio, Paolo Comoglio and Roberto Foa ‘, and the Florentine Alessandro Vannucchi.

Respectively, coordinate projects with ‘directed’ at the Fondazione San Raffaele of Milan (135 researchers), the Institute for Research and Treatment of Cancer-Candiolo IRCC, Turin (11 groups, 97 scientists), University ‘La Sapienza Rome (6 groups, 75 researchers) and the University ‘of Florence (68 children). But studies also involve other cities’ such as Bergamo, Pavia, Bologna, Modena-Reggio Emilia, Perugia.

The project focuses on Calligaris-Cappio Chronic lymphocytic leukemia and multiple myeloma, and assumes that “cancer is not ‘a solo but rather’ an orchestra – the scientist says – where the director (genetic damage) and ‘lined by a series of sidekicks, minions and assassins “that cancer cells” take in a snare, enslave and bend to their will. ” The purpose and ‘then’ harness the interaction between malignant cells and microenvironment, “coming to tailor new therapies.

“Our project ‘complementary,” echoed Comoglio that will focus’ on colorectal cancer resistant, but with possible implications also against other tumors. If the team Calligaris-Cappio “indentifichera ‘the musicians’ Stone’ orchestra” that feeds the cancer, “we – Comoglio says – we aim at the head of the director, we shoot between the eyes.” Ambition and ‘ie’ to ‘turn the primal wound “at the base of the tumor, because’ putting in ‘off’ as” everything else fails. ” You must hit the target then oncogenes, and “the pharmaceutical industry and ‘already’ activated ‘to destroy those already’ known with new molecules.

Foa ‘will’ instead pledged to “redesign the diagnosis, therapy and prognostic classification” of acute and chronic lymphoid malignancies: “I am the third in order of frequency between 20 years and it is estimated will be the first,” he warns. Finally Vannucchi, with 7 research groups in all, will try ‘to identify new therapeutic targets in myeloid malignancies: “Diseases in oncology are considered a bit’ the ‘younger sisters,” he notes. “We will not use a telephoto lens – he concludes – but a wide angle lens, to scan the horizon for the vital elements in cells gone mad.