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FRESH SCIENCE for Clinicians
News about basic science of interest and relevance for cancer clinicians
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
'Closing the Translational Gap'

Science Translational Medicine has devoted this week’s issue to the question of whether the research community is winning the war against cancer. In an opening editorial (reg req), Bert Vogelstein and Kenneth W. Kinzler, note that the articles included are more than standard reviews. “…the [STM] editors asked the experts to highlight obstacles that must be overcome to win this war and to describe state-of-the-art approaches to break through the blockades. The results of these experts’ efforts are thought provoking.


“In sum, the papers in this issue lay out a multipronged plan of attack that forms a blueprint for victory over the coming decades. These ideas will hopefully stimulate readers to think more broadly about the cancer problem and to devise their own nonconventional ways to combat it,” the editorialists conclude.


The perspectives articles cover:

·    Putting more focus on prevention;

·    Early detection and biomarker development, particularly in prostate cancer;

·    The potentially curative power of immunotherapy;

·    A look at the role tumor heterogeneity plays in resistance;

·    Challenges posed by cancer stem cell therapy, and;

·    Prolonging remissions with cancer-specific antibodies, like trastuzumab.


The issue also includes three research studies testing ways to improve treatment:

·    The natural product oridonin breaks up the leukemia-causing fusion protein AML1-ETO, hitting what is traditionally considered non-druggable target;

·    A small molecule prevents invasion in glioblastoma, and;

·    Identification of an immune escape mechanism in melanoma.


I haven’t yet read the whole issue, but I hope it proves as interesting as Dr. Vogelstein and Dr. Kinzler suggest. If so, maybe we will see more progress soon.


In the meantime, if any of you readers have comments about the articles, I’d be very interested to hear them.

About the Author

Rabiya S. Tuma, PhD
RABIYA S. TUMA, PHD, a Contributing Writer for Oncology Times, is an award winning journalist and a regular contributor to The Economist, and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including CR Magazine, Yoga + Joyful Living, O The Oprah Magazine, HHMI Bulletin, and the New York Times. Prior to launching her writing career, Rabiya earned her doctorate at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and worked at a biotechnology firm in Eugene, Oregon. And though she traded a lab bench for a computer, she remains fascinated with the work that takes basic science into the clinic.

Her OT blog was recognized this year by the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (ASHPE) with a bronze award in the category of Best Blog.