Making "death receptor" anticancer drugs live up to their name

death receptor

Cancer cells have an array of built-in self-destruct buttons called death receptors.

Several drugs that target death receptors have been developed, but clinical trials have been disappointing so far because cancer cells appear to develop resistance pathways.

Emory researchers are hoping to zero in on tumors that are most vulnerable to drugs that target death receptors. They found that mutations in the cancer-driving genes Ras and B-Raf signify increased vulnerability to drugs that target death receptors. 

These mutations occur more often in certain types of cancer. Approximately half of melanoma cancers have B-raf mutations, and K-ras mutations are similarly found in lung cancer. Such mutations are common enough in lung, colon, and pancreatic cancers that they can be useful biomarkers, says oncology researcher Shi-Yong Sun of Emory's Winship Cancer Institute.

Table of Contents

Emory Medicine Cover