Health Watch - Cancer Advances: Experimental Drugs

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


Cancer is a major focus of medical researchers as they work on finding ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer. This week on Health Watch, we’ll look at some recent advances in this field. A new drug currently being tested may provide a new way to treat particularly challenging forms of cancer.

It can be difficult to treat brain cancer because the blood-brain barrier keeps drugs from crossing from the bloodstream into the brain. This new drug works by targeting the telomeres, the “caps” at the ends of chromosomes that keep cells from dividing too many times, limiting their lifespan. In cancer cells, the telomeres don’t limit the cell’s life, allowing the cells to be immortal. Dr. Jerry Shay, a cell biologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says this drug is especially promising because it attacks not only the tumor cells but also the rare cancer stem cells that are likely responsible for a cancer’s growth.

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February 2010


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