According to a story from Newswise, a team of scientists from the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital have been hard a work conducting an in-depth analysis of a pediatric solid tumor cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. This analysis has successfully identified potential weaknesses in the composition of this cancer that could be utilized in future treatment approaches.
Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of soft tissue sarcoma cancer. It is highly aggressive and affects skeletal muscle cells that are not yet fully differentiated. Most people affected by the disease are under age 18. In many cases, the cause of rhabdosarcoma remains a mystery, and the cancer often appears sporadically. However, increased risk has been associated with certain genetic disorders, and parental use of cocaine and marijuana may also increase the risk. The symptoms and presentation of this cancer vary widely and often depend on where the tumor appears; often a prominent lump is noticeable. This means that this cancer can, in some cases, be diagnosed early. Treatment approaches include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy. Outcomes vary substantially depending on location, but the cure rate for cancer that hasn’t spread is 75 percent. Relapsed or metastatic cancer has much worse survival rates. To learn more about rhabdomyosarcoma, click here.
There were a number of cell signaling pathways that are disrupted by the rhabdomyosarcoma tumor. Some of the pathways that were identified include the G2/M pathway, the RAS pathway, and the unfolded protein response pathway. The experimental drug AZD1775, which is currently in clinical trials, has been identified as inhibiting an enzyme called WEE1, which is part of the G2/M pathway. This pathway plays a critical role in regulating cell division. This drug could have great potential in treating rhabdomyosarcoma, as revealed by extensive preclinical testing.
The analysis also revealed that the two main variants of rhabdomyosarcoma, called embryonal and alveolar, tend to appear at different stages in development. They tend to affect children of different ages. The two types also tend to appear in different locations in the body. With all of this new data about this cancer, drug developers can find ways to develop precise therapies that can help treat this dangerous childhood disease.