Researchers are taking a closer look at the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3-kinase) pathway as studies continue to demonstrate that inhibiting this biological route suppresses tumor growth, reports Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN). The pathway is involved in angiogenesis, cell growth, differentiation, and survival. In addition, it is part of the PI3/AKT/mTOR pathway, which plays a key role in cancer.
"The good news about cancer is that a report last month from the National Cancer Institute indicated that there is a decline in both cancer incidence and death rates in the U.S.," says John Sterling, Editor in Chief of GEN. "But the American Cancer Society estimates that there will still be over half a million cancer deaths in America in 2008 so novel therapies remain critical."
Exelixis, for example, has developed several potential cancer compounds, two of which (XL147 and XL765) target the PI3-kinase pathway. Company scientists say they are studying the pathway because there are a number of feedback loops that emanate from m-TOR and downstream kinases that circle back to the top of the pathway and turn on AKT, an enzyme that drives tumor survival signals.
Investigators at the University of London are exploring the role of PI3-kinase isoforms in normal physiology and disease. A team led by Dr. Bart Vanhaesebroeck isolated the PI3-kinase genes in various mammals and developed models to better understand gene function.
Also covered in the GEN article is research taking place at Eli Lilly, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, Semafore Pharmaceuticals, Calistoga Pharmaceuticals, and Harvard Medical School.
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