Diabetes Drug Treats Lung Cancer


>>AMITA: The Salk institute with a $42 million
grant is getting promise for a new cancer drug and Rueben Shaw joins me to talk about
the research. Professor Shaw you made a discovery nearly
a decade ago between lung cancer and a common diabetes drug.
What was the link?>>So the link was, in trying to understand
what this lung cancer gene was doing, we discovered the major function it has in the cell is to
regulate metabolism and it acts as a fuel gauge to tell the cell how much energy it
has. In tumors that require alterations in this
gene they lack the ability to know how much energy we have.
Tumors normally have plenty of energy and blood supply, they’re fine but it suggested
an issue for tumors that have this genetic alteration so searching for things that may
lower the metabolism of cells it turns out that they’re not existing cancer drugs but
the world of diabetes research so the most commonly used drug is called metformin and
we study those potent drugs that may be responsible for killing off the gene.
>>AMITA: So we have graphics of the results here.
Can you talk to me about those?>>So on the left hand side what we see, we
treated a series of genetically engineered models of lung cancer that carry alterations
in different cancer genes and on the left hand side we see tumors treated with placebo,
and on the right side treated with Phenformin and we viewed a shrinking of the cell when
you treat with this. For other genes it was not effective.
>>AMITA: I want to talk about that as we saw the results are dramatic.
What emerges from this is what you call “surprised treatment” tell me about that?
>>It’s personalized medicine which is becoming more and more common in cancer therapist today
and the idea is that you treat different patients based on the genetic alterations in their
tumors so the sub type of cancer gets treated based on which genes are altered.
This has been done for about the past 10 years so in breast cancer you may have heard people
saying my tumor I heard from the doctor is ER positive, that’s a particular gene if your
tumor has that gene in high amounts you can use a therapy to treat those.
If your breast cancer is ER negative and doesn’t have it, then that drug won’t do anything
for it.>>AMITA: How far away is the treatment?
>>Great question. In this case because metformin in it’s wide
use, this has approval and can quickly be transitioned into the clinic.
Me and my team are working with clinicians on the east coast and in Montreal to translate
this into phase 1 trials to see what dozes might beÊ doses might be effective.
>>AMITA: And might be helpful in your further research is a $42 million grant that Salk
institute received, the largest in the institute’s history, what will it be used for?
>>It will be used to study genomic medicine, all cancers and diabetes, and always measures
have diseased tissues, so in a patient that has the disease compared to a normal person
it is possible to gain the full genetic sequence and tailor drugs compared to that.
So we believe there are far more connections and basic processes that go on in these diseases
which include changes in metabolism and inflammation and this grant will be used to create genomic
sequencing facilities and other infrastructure as well as to help pay for these advanced
experiments with the goal to expressly translate this into the clinic.
>>AMITA: Rueben Shaw thank you for coming in today.