The knock against the groundbreaking skin cancer drug Erivedge, which was developed by Curis Inc. (NASDAQ: CRIS) and South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc., is that the cancer can find a way around the targeted therapy. But in a paper Wednesday in the journal Nature, Stanford University researchers say they identified another way of blocking the so-called Hedgehog pathway. That could open the door to new treatments for basal cell carcinoma as well as aggressive tumors in pancreatic cancer, small cell lung cancer and colon cancer. Erivedge zeroes in on a protein dubbed Smoothened, which is a player near the beginning of the Hedgehog pathway. But Stanford dermatology professor Dr. Anthony Oro, postdoctoral scholar Scott Atwood and others believe that targeting another protein that they discovered, called aPKC, could block a positive feedback loop between aPKC and Gli, which is activated by Smoothened. Read more.
Hailed as a major step forward in the effort to develop targeted cancer therapies, a recently approved drug for the most common type of skin cancer has been a mixed blessing for patients. Although the initial response is usually dramatic, the tumors often recur as the cancer becomes resistant to treatment. Now researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified a second way to block the activity of the signaling cascade, called the Hedgehog pathway, that is abnormally active in these cancers. The researchers hope the new approach may not only one day help patients with tumors that have become resistant to the first drug, vismodegib (marketed as Erivedge), but may also provide a novel combination therapy for newly diagnosed tumors that may be more effective than either treatment alone. Read more.