Sridhar Ramaswamy, MD, Tucker Gosnell Investigator and Associate Professor of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, Broad Institute of Harvard & MIT, and Harvard Stem Cell Institute, discusses targeting dormant cancer cells and the possible role that they play in the development of drug resistance.
Dormant cells appear in most patients with tumors. These cells are not rapidly proliferating and remain largely inactive. While these cells sleep, they are highly resistant to most types of therapy.
Dormant cancer cells are intrinsically intriguing because the number of inherent mutations would denote that the cells should be rapidly proliferating. The mechanism that allows them to switch between dormant and active is yet unknown. The goal of the research is to discover the underlying cause of the dormancy, tumor progression, and the mechanism of resistance to various types of therapy.
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.