Dr. Mills on the Development of Combination Therapies
Gordon B. Mills, MD, PhD
Published Online: Friday, October 7, 2011
Gordon B. Mills, MD, PhD, chairman, Department of Systems Biology, chief, Section of Molecular Therapeutics, Professor of Medicine and Immunology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses utilizing systems biology for the development of new combination therapies.
Homeostasis in normal cells results in a rewiring of signaling pathways in order to maintain equilibrium. The homeostatic mechanism is not as strong in cancer cells but there is still a response that occurs when a targeted therapeutic is introduced.
Cancer cells enact a stress program in order to survive the stress of the therapeutic. This reaction can be exploited and used to create combinations that not only target the original tumor cells but also prevent resistance by targeting the compensation mechanism.
Mills explains that research is currently being focused on combinations that will be the most effective. The studies seek to establish a therapeutic index by examining systems biology for various combinations based on a comparison between the toxicity and efficacy of the treatment.
The members of the RAS oncogene family are central cogs in many different cell-signaling pathways, coordinate a variety of important cellular processes, and are highly mutated in a number of different cancers, including several with extremely poor prognosis.