Innocent Bystander in the Fight Against Cancer

March 1, 2017

Emerging cancer treatments that target specific pathways in cancer cells have been thought to be the answer to the many side effects and long-term risks associated with older chemotherapy drugs. In a new review by Professor David A. Fruman (Molecular Biology and Biochemistry) and Professor Susan O’Brien (Division of Hematology and Oncology), the cancer researchers discuss new findings that show that two new targeted therapies can led to harmful effects due to off-target mechanisms. Their review was recently published online in Nature News & Views.

In the review, Professors Fruman and O’Brien discuss findings from the lab of Dr. Roberto Chiarle, which show that two FDA approved targeted treatments against chronic lymphocytic leukemia cause indirect damage to DNA in patients, and in rodent models. Professors Fruman and O’Brien provide an excellent overview of the mechanism behind the bystander effect of the drugs, and note the importance of follow-up studies investigating the long-term effects of these treatments. Though these specific targeted treatments have been highly effective in clinical trials, Dr. Chiarle’s findings have important implications for the continued use of these agents.