Experimental drug shows promise in treating head, neck cancers

April 29th, 2009 - 2:34 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 29 (ANI): An anti-cancer compound studied for treating blood cancers may also help in treating cancers of the head and neck, say researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

The study involved a new class of chemotherapy agents known as histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, which affect the availability of genes that are transcribed and translated into proteins.

In many types of cancer, out-of-control cell growth results from certain genes that are either too active or not active enough in producing proteins.

HDAC inhibitors appear to combat cancer by restoring the normal expression of key regulatory genes that control cell growth and survival.

The researchers focused on a particular HDAC inhibitor known as LBH589 that has already shown some success in clinical trials involving people with cancers of the blood.

The researchers found that LBH589 succeeded in killing tumour cells that had been removed from head and neck cancer patients and grown in the laboratory.

“This report shows that an HDAC inhibitor is effective on head and neck cancer cell lines, and that is the first step toward use in humans,” said Richard Smith, M.D., the lead clinician involved in the study.

The researchers also identified a set of genes whose expression levels change in response to the HDAC inhibitors-a finding that may help doctors identify patients most likely to respond to the drug.

Plans call for testing LBH589 on head and neck tumour cells from more patients so that the set of genes that respond to the drug can be more firmly established.

Michael Prystowsky, M.D., Ph.D., chair and professor of pathology at Einstein and co-author of the study, said: “We are performing studies in mice to confirm these laboratory results, which hopefully will progress to human clinical trials of LBH589 for the treatment of head and neck cancer,” said

The study is reported in the April 28th online edition of the Journal of Pathology. (ANI)

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