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Cancer is a large and complex family of malignancies that can affect virtually every organ in the body. Cancer is second only to heart disease as the leading cause of death in the United States. Over 1.2 million new cases are diagnosed every year, with half of them occurring in the lung, prostate, breast, colon and rectum. Worldwide, each year 10.9 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 6.7 million people die from the disease. It is estimated that there are 24.6 million people worldwide have received a diagnosis of cancer in the last five years. Cancer can strike at any age, although it is most common in people over 50. [View World Map of Cancer Incidence]

The vast majority of cancers--about 80%--are considered sporadic, meaning that there is no clear cause. For some reason, certain normal genes begin to mutate (change), multiplying rapidly and becoming malignant. There are several environmental influences that may cause these gene mutations to occur. In fact, a large number of cancers are preventable because most of these factors can be controlled with healthy lifestyle choices. The other 20% of cancers are hereditary.

There are currently four major types of cancer treatment: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. These therapies can be used either alone or in combination with each other. Location, size and stage of the tumor, as well as overall health, determine which treatment or treatments will be given. Many new treatments, including cancer vaccines and gene therapy, are being studied in clinical trials.

Simbiosys is developing a portfolio of cell-based drug discovery solutions that are part of the new generation of targeted therapies against cancer utilizing advances in molecular oncology. Solutions based on the following therapeutic approaches are being explored by our scientists:

Anti-Angiogenesis
 

Angiogenesis is the creation of tiny new blood vessels and is a healthy process that enables the human body to create new blood vessels to reach all of its cells. In a cancer patient, this same process creates new, very small blood vessels that provide a tumor with its own blood supply and allow it to grow. Anti-angiogenesis is the use of drugs or other substances to stop tumors from developing new blood vessels. Without a blood supply, tumors cannot grow. Several hundred compounds that interfere with the growth of endothelial cells or that interfere with angiogenesis have been found, many of which are now in preclinical or clinical development. In 2004, bevacizumab (Avastin), a monoclonal antibody directed against VEGF, became the first anti-angiogenesis drug to be approved for treating cancer.

Protein Tyrosine Kinase (PTK) Inhibition
 

PTKs are compelling targets for the treatment of human cancer as they regulate multiple cellular processes that contribute to tumor development and progression, including cell growth, differentiation, migration and apoptosis. In model systems, perturbation of tyrosine kinase signaling can result in malignant transformation. The human genome encodes 90 proteins with tyrosine kinase domains, and many human tumors display aberrant activation of tyrosine kinases caused by genetic alterations. For tumors whose growth is driven by these activated kinases, PTK inhibitors can potentially reverse malignant progression. Clinical studies in the last decade have established that PTK inhibitors are safe and therapeutically active in selected cancer populations. Several drugs from this class are now part of standard therapy for specific tumor types.

Glycolysis Inhibition
 

Over 70 years ago, Warburg observed that cancer cells exhibit increased glycolysis and depend largely on this metabolic pathway for generation of ATP to meet their energy needs. During the past several decades, the Warburg effect has been consistently observed in a wide spectrum of human cancers, although the underlying biochemical and molecular mechanisms remain yet to be defined. Among the possible mechanisms, mitochondrial malfunction and hypoxia in the tumor microenvironment are considered major factors contributing to the Warburg effect.

 
Assay Development
Cell Isolation & Banking
Cell Line Development
Natural Product Testing
Molecular Biology
Bioinfomatics

 

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