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Recent Publications by VICC Researchers

January 27, 2016

Protein identified as potential target for lung cancer treatment

A protein that transports the amino acid glutamine is a potential biomarker and therapeutic target for non-small cell lung cancer, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers reported in the Oct. 1, 2015, International Journal of Cancer. Pierre Massion, M.D., Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair in Medicine, and colleagues demonstrated that genetically or pharmacologically inactivating the protein SLC1A5 decreased glutamine consumption, inhibited cell growth and induced cell death in cell lines that overexpressed the transporter. Glutamine is a modulator of cell growth in non-small cell lung cancer. The work was supported by the Lung Cancer Research Foundation and the National Cancer Institute.


New targeted therapy shows promise for rare joint tumor

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center physicians have been testing a new drug that shows promise for the treatment of a rare tumor that forms in and around joint cavities.  Patients with pigmented vilonodular synovitis (PVNS) taking the drug PLX3397 generally had a large reduction in tumor burden within the first four months of treatment, according to a study published in the July 30, 2015, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. The mean decrease in tumor volume score was 61 percent. An extension study determined that 83 percent of the participants achieved disease control. Since PVNS is a rare cancer, the 23 participants in the trial were selected by VUMC and several other major medical centers. The new drug is a targeted therapy that blocks interaction between a cancer factor and its receptor. Igor Puzanov, M.D., led VICC’s Phase 1 portion of the trial in patients with solid tumors. Plexxikon provided funding for the study.


Clues found to cancer-fighting benefits of Mediterranean diet

Vanderbilt researchers Kendra Vann and Neil Osheroff, Ph.D., working with researchers in Israel, screened 341 Mediterranean plant extracts looking for novel phytochemicals with anticancer activity. They found that an extract from a specific type of olive tree enhanced DNA cleavage by a human enzyme that is an important target for plant-derived anticancer drugs. The findings were reported July 13, 2015, in the journal, Biochemistry. The National Institutes of Health, ICA in Israel, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Richard H. Holzer Foundation supported the research.


Study explores protein’s role in inflammation-associated cancer

A protein that transports selenium may protect against a type of colon cancer that develops in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, according to a Vanderbilt-led study published in the July 2015 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, affects about 1.4 million Americans. IBD exposes the intestines to chronic inflammation and excessive levels of reactive oxygen species, which can cause DNA mutations and increase cancer risk. Using mouse models, Christopher Williams, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues demonstrated that mice missing a selenium-containing antioxidant protein had more colitis-associated tumors than mice with the protein. The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Merit Review grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Research team identifies how protein promotes stomach cancer

A Vanderbilt research team has discovered a new molecular mechanism involving a protein that plays a crucial role in promoting stomach cancer development. While cancer researchers knew that DARPP-32 was over-expressed in stomach cancer, no one knew how it actually worked until the study was reported June 29, 2015, in Oncogene. Professor of Surgery and Cancer Biology Wael El-Rifai, M.D., Ph.D., the H. William Scott Jr. Professor of Surgery, and colleagues from Vanderbilt University Medical Center did the research.  The study was supported, in part, by NIH grants.


Black seed oil component boosts power of cancer drug

Thymoquinone, a component of black seed oil, when combined with cisplatin enhanced the cancer drug’s anti-tumor effects in cultured ovarian cancer cells and in a mouse model of ovarian cancer. Thymoquinone without the cancer drug also had the unexpected complication of increasing abdominal fluid production in mice. The study was reported July 28, 2015, in the Journal of Ovarian Research. Investigators from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and VUMC determined that cisplatin could be improved when combined with another agent, but they also said caution should be exercised with the future use of the black seed oil component in patients with ovarian cancer. Andrew Wilson, Ph.D., Fiona Yull, Ph.D., Dineo Khabele, M.D., and colleagues did the study with support from the NIH and the Department of Defense.


Recent war veterans face higher skin cancer risk

Soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan came home at increased risk of skin cancer due to sun exposure and a lack of protection from ultraviolet rays, according to a survey conducted by Jennifer Powers, M.D., and colleagues with the Vanderbilt Division of Dermatology. Veterans at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Nashville were asked a series of questions for the survey, which was reported July 16, 2015, in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Sixty-three percent experienced at least one sunburn during deployment. Over 43 percent had two or more sunburns. Twenty percent reported blistering sunburns. Soldiers often did not have sunscreen, according to the survey. Fewer than 30 percent reported having routine access to it. The study was supported by the Skin Cancer Foundation, the National Center for Advancing Translational Science of the NIH as well as additional resources and the use of facilities of the Nashville Tennessee Valley Healthcare System.