MUSC making its mark in cancer treatments see more
Many cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation kill cancer cells by inducing significant DNA damage beyond repair. But some tumors still develop alternative ways to survive. Now, scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified such a molecular pathway that helps cancer cells evade destruction.
The protein ECT2 is critical for the activation of a backup survival mechanism cancer cells resort to as part of their response to DNA damage, the scientists described in a study published in the journal Science Signaling.
As DNA damage response is essential for cell survival or death, better understanding of its mechanisms could lead to better combination therapies that can overcome tumor resistance, three researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) said in an accompanying editorial.
Scientists know that the kinase AKT is a key regulator of genome stability—hence cell survival—by mediating downstream signaling involved in DNA damage response and DNA repair. Increased activation of the enzyme has been linked to cancer progression and resistance to drugs. However, the exact mechanisms of AKT activation in the face of DNA damage were unclear.
For its study, the MUSC and Beth Israel team treated multiple cancer cell lines with ionizing radiation or the chemotherapy etoposide and examined their responses. The researchers found that in response to drug-induced DNA damage, the DNA-PK enzyme modified a subunit of the mTORC2 protein complex.
ECT2 recognized that interaction and subsequently promoted AKT activation, according to the team. When ECT2 was removed in cancer cells, treatment with etoposide didn’t induce AKT activation. Compared with control cells, these ECT2-depleted cells responded better to etoposide, showing decreased colony formation.
What’s more, reintroducing ECT2 to the cells enhanced AKT activity, while an ECT2 mutant failed to do so, the team showed. Between the two groups, cells expressing normal ECT2 were less sensitive to etoposide partly because of reduced cell death.
A cancer patient may go through multiple lines of treatment as cancer cells outsmart the drugs they encounter. Many research groups are exploring ways to render resilient tumors vulnerable to existing treatment. Last year, two teams of scientists demonstrated the promising effects of inhibiting an enzyme called POLQ on BRCA-mutated tumors that had stopped responding to traditional PARP inhibitors.
A research team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne recently proposed adding CSF1R inhibition to control tumor-associated macrophages as a strategy to restore responses to the combination of PD-1/L1 immune checkpoint inhibitors, antiangiogenic drugs and chemo.
“Targeting the [DNA damage response] in cancer is of great clinical importance to traditional, current and emerging therapies including immunotherapy given the observed induction of antitumor immunity by DDR-targeted therapies,” the UIC researchers wrote in the editorial.
Findings from the current study pointed to combining DNA damage with DNA-PK-ECT2-mTORC2 network inhibition as a more efficient therapy against cancer, they said.
Clemson researchers pursue cutting-edge science and targeted medicine to improve lifespan, quality see more
In the last 25 years, rigorous research, broad medical collaborations and lifesaving interventions have made huge strides for cancer treatment. That means survival rates are up across the board for almost all forms of cancer, including the two most common ones for South Carolinians: breast and prostate cancer.
As recently as the late 1990s, there were clinical trials, and there were heroic efforts, but there were very few effective treatments for combatting some of the most highly aggressive forms of cancer. Twenty-five years later, some of those same cancers have a more than 80 percent survival rate.
Clemson can point to health innovation through research that has played notable roles in improving health outcomes for patients statewide. And that’s because cancer intervention isn’t isolated to bedside care from a nurse or petri-dish analysis from the lab.
Today, cancer treatment is:
- Powered by huge data sets that build the artificial intelligence needed to identify root causes of and precision cures for cancer.
- Innovative approaches, such as precision radio frequency that targets cancer cells rather than an IV drip administering chemotherapy drugs.
- Cellular research to develop new methods of finding and eliminating cancer faster, more safely and more efficiently.
- Identifying and preventing the side effects of treatment drugs and improving quality of life for patients even as they and their health care teams aggressively fight cancer.
Company making up to 71,000 RNA extractions available to testing laboratories see more
GREENVILLE, S.C. – April 1, 2020 – KIYATEC, Inc., a clinical-stage leader in ex vivo 3D cell culture testing that supports cancer drug development and drug therapy decision-making, announced today that it is making high-throughput RNA extraction services available to clinical laboratories nationwide that are conducting COVID-19 testing. By creating additional capacity for RNA extraction, a critical component of the COVID-19 testing process, KIYATEC believes it will help testing laboratories normalize the processing and delivery of test results at a time of unprecedented testing demand and turnaround times.
Most coronavirus tests rely on RNA extraction as the first technical step; without it, the test cannot be performed. Nationwide shortages and backlogs in the reagents and kits most often used to perform these extractions have created bottlenecks and delays that have impacted COVID-19 testing volume and throughput, thereby prompting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve alternate testing processes under Emergency Use Authorization (EAU) status. With an already CLIA-certified and operational high complexity lab, KIYATEC is joining the fight against this pandemic by offering its RNA extraction services to COVID-19 testing laboratories.
While KIYATEC’s core business in oncology continues to occupy much of its laboratory testing capacity, the company has elected to make up to 71,000 RNA extractions available over the next two months, effective immediately, on a fee-for-service basis to COVID-19 testing laboratories nationwide. At a time when COVID-19 testing volume and turnaround times are surging, KIYATEC’s 24-hour turnaround time per RNA extraction could provide a cost-effective efficiency boost to laboratories performing these tests. Making RNA extraction services available to COVID-19 testing laboratories is consistent with KIYATEC’s core goals of improving patient care and outcomes.
“Although KIYATEC traditionally serves the oncology community exclusively, we quickly determined that our existing technical infrastructure and capabilities in RNA extraction were ideally aligned to address this critical pressure point in the COVID-19 test process,” said Matthew Gevaert, PhD, CEO of KIYATEC. “Following discussions with public health thought leaders and COVID-19 testing laboratories, we realized that offering RNA extraction services could provide immediate help to these laboratories in overcoming possible supply chain challenges and optimizing their volume and turnaround time potential.”
About KIYATEC, Inc.
KIYATEC leverages its proprietary ex vivo 3D cell culture technology platforms to accurately model and predict response to approved and investigational cancer drugs targeting a spectrum of solid tumors. The company’s Clinical Services business is currently engaged in the validation of clinical assays as well as investigator-initiated studies in ovarian cancer, breast cancer, glioblastoma and rare tumors, in its CLIA-certified laboratory. The company’s Drug Development Services business works in partnership with leading biopharmaceutical companies to unlock response dynamics for their investigational drug candidates across the majority of solid tumor types.
Lillia Holmes, Chief Operating Officer, 864-502-2013
KIYATEC Strengthens Leadership Team with Appointment of Vice Presidents of Clinical Affairs and Commercial OperationsKIYATEC growth supports upcoming programs to better predict patient response to oncology drugs see more
GREENVILLE, SC. – May 29, 2018 – KIYATEC, Inc., a privately held company changing the future of cancer care by predicting patient response to oncology drugs prior to treatment, today announced an expansion of its leadership team with the appointment of two industry veterans. Charlene Knape has joined the company as Vice President of Clinical Affairs, and Timothy Decker as Vice President Commercial Operations.
Mr. Decker, a twenty year industry leader with a proven track record of developing and commercializing oncology diagnostic services and pharmaceuticals, has assumed responsibility for pre-launch commercial strategic development along with tactical planning and execution to drive clinical product launches. Mr. Decker held roles of increasing responsibility in strategic and tactical marketing for a decade at G.D. Searle and Abbott Laboratories before joining Genomic Health, Inc. Over an eight year span, he played a lead role as Director and Senior Director in the global launch, marketing, reimbursement and sales of Oncotype DX molecular diagnostic tests in breast, colon and prostate cancers. Mr. Decker subsequently served as Vice President of Marketing at Castle Biosciences, Inc., where he drove corporate and pipeline strategy, as well as in-line product strategy and revenue growth for its molecular diagnostic tests in melanoma. He joins the company from Mexico City-based Grupo Fármacos Especializados, where he served as Division Head, Oncology Diagnostics, responsible for developing reimbursement pathways and securing positive coverage decisions among public and private sector payers.
With more than 25 years of experience working with diagnostic companies, Ms. Knape is responsible for leading the clinical development programs and clinical operations for KIYATEC’s pipeline for ovarian cancer, glioblastoma, rare tumors and triple negative breast cancer. She most recently served as Senior Director, Clinical Development for Inivata, a clinical cancer genomics company utilizing liquid biopsies for comprehensive genomic profiling of tumors. Prior to this, Ms. Knape served in Becton Dickinson’s Corporate Clinical Development group, responsible for global clinical quality and contracts. Ms. Knape spent five years with Micell Technologies as Senior Director of Clinical Affairs where she managed all global clinical activities for first-in-human and CE Marking studies for an implantable cardiovascular device from initiation through successful regulatory submission. As the company’s lead in clinical operations, Ms. Knape also built the team and initiated a 1,400-patient study in Europe and a 400-patient study in China. Previously, Ms. Knape served as Vice President, Clinical Affairs at EndoTex Interventional Systems, led the clinical functions for Avocet Medical and Somnus Medical Technologies and held clinical affairs positions in the Companion Diagnostics and Biorepository at LabCorp.
“At this pivotal time in the company’s growth, we are thrilled to welcome Charlene and Tim to KIYATEC. These two newly created positions are critical as we expand our clinical programs in key therapeutic areas and further strengthen our plan for the broad adoption of our patient-specific response prediction tests,” said Dr. Matthew Gevaert, CEO of KIYATEC. “Their expertise and industry knowledge is unparalleled and they will be instrumental as KIYATEC continues toward its path of changing the future of cancer care by predicting patient response to chemotherapy before treatment begins. I’m so glad to have Tim and Charlene on our team as we move toward our goal of commercialization and helping patients receive optimal treatment at the earliest possible time.”
KIYATEC will be attending the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting being held June 1-5 in Chicago.
About KIYATEC, Inc.
KIYATEC is changing the future of cancer care by accurately predicting patient-specific response and non-response to chemotherapy drugs before treatment begins. Wasted time is the enemy of cancer patients and there is currently no way to accurately predict which cancer patients will respond to standard oncology treatments. KIYATEC has developed a validated process to use a cancer patient’s own live cells to accurately predict treatment response prior to beginning treatment.