This month’s edition of Drug Discovery Today, Editor’s Choice returns to more familiar ground from last month’s excursion into regulatory issues, with 3 excellent articles on various aspects of drug discovery targeted at the treatment of cancer. The war on cancer has been a constant battle since the early 1970s as championed by Senator Edward Kennedy, then by President Nixon in 1971. The tragic death of Edward Kennedy from brain cancer starkly highlights that although massive progress has been made in the 40-50 years since then, we have a lot to learn and a long way to go to remove the fear and dreadful toll of this devastating disease. Despite this, there have been some massive breakthroughs in the last few years and the field of immunooncology looks incredibly promising as we move forward. The featured articles in this mailing cover very diverse topics, from radiocopper chemistry to Long non-coding RNAs in ovarian cancer.
The first article is by Alessandra Boschi, Petra Martini, Emilija Janevik-Ivanovska and Adriano Duatti from the Universities of Ferrara and Štip and is entitled: “The emerging role of copper-64 radiopharmaceuticals as cancer theranostics”. It is not often that we attract reviews on bioinorganic approaches to the treatment of disease, but this article highlights some very interesting properties of copper in treating malignancies. The authors highlight the unexpected and impressive theranostic properties of copper 64, particularly in neuroendocrine, prostate, and hypoxic tumors. The authors give a tour de force of the current state of play of copper radiopharmaceuticals in the imaging and treatment of cancer.
By contrast, there is not a single sign of a therapeutic inorganic ion in the second paper from Manish K. Tripathi, Kyle Doxtater, Fatemeh Keramatnia, Chidi Zacheaus, Murali M. Yallapu, Meena Jaggi and Subhash C. Chauhan of The Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Center for Cancer Research, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, USA entitled “‘Role of lncRNAs in ovarian cancer: defining new biomarkers for therapeutic purposes” As the title suggests, the article is concerned with long noncoding RNAs, structures that are over 200 nucleotides in length. Such structures have a multiplicity of biological activity, but most pertinently they are strongly associated with tumor development and are significant in that they have the potential to elucidate how the genome can regulate cellular processes, not least cancer. They discuss strategies by which these structures can be silenced and how beneficial effects can be achieved, particularly in ovarian cancer.
The final article by Kamini Kaushal, Ainsley Mike Antao, Kye-Seong Kim and Suresh Ramakrishna of the Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea entitled: “Deubiquitinating enzymes in cancer stem cells: functions and targeted inhibition for cancer therapy”. They outline how a range of tumor types are capable of evading standard therapies for cancer and, it is thought, that they manage this though the presence of cancer stem cells. The physiology of these cells is similar to normal stem cells and the authors discuss ubiquitination and deubiquitinases (DUBs) that regulate factors like Notch, Wnt, Sonic Hedgehog and Hippo. They go on to discuss DUB inhibitors and their potential for treating cancers.
Steve Carney was born in Liverpool, England and studied Biochemistry at Liverpool University, obtaining a BSc.(Hons) and then read for a PhD on the Biochemistry and Pathology of Connective Tissue Diseases in Manchester University, in the Departments of Medical Biochemistry and Histopathology. On completion of his PhD he moved to the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, London, where he worked with Professor Helen Muir FRS and Professor Tim Hardingham, on the biochemistry of experimental Osteoarthritis. He joined Eli Lilly and Co. and held a number of positions in Biology R&D, initially in the Connective Tissue Department, but latterly in the Neuroscience Department. He left Lilly to take up his present position as Managing Editor, Drug Discovery Today, at Elsevier. Currently, he also holds an honorary lectureship in Drug Discovery at the University of Surrey, UK. He has authored over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals, written several book chapters and has held a number of patents. On the media front, Dr. Carney has been busy on some hush-hush projects that will be reported on later in the year.