BOSTON – Scientists have discovered a previously unknown molecular vulnerability in two rare, aggressive, and hard-to-treat types of cancer, and say it may be possible to attack this weakness with targeted drugs.
Reporting in Nature Cell Biology, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute show that these two cancers – synovial sarcoma and malignant rhabdoid tumors – are dependent on a newly characterized “molecular machine” called ncBAF, which plays unique roles in regulating gene activity. The scientists showed that biologically and chemically disabling components of ncBAF — which is made up of several unique protein subunits – specifically impaired the proliferation of two types of cancer cell lines which share a common disruption.
“This is one of the first suggestions toward a route for therapeutic intervention in these intractable, aggressive cancers,” said Cigall Kadoch, PhD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, senior author of the report in Nature Cell Biology. “These findings identify new, cancer-specific targets which may be extendable to other cancer types as well.”
Synovial sarcoma is a rare cancer of soft tissues that typically is diagnosed in young adults. Malignant rhabdoid tumors are also rare but are very aggressive and usually develop in children under the age of two. They