Barbacid warns that most genes mutated in cancer cannot be addressed with drugs

Madrid, February 16 (EFE).- Biochemist and researcher Mariano Barbacacid warned this Friday that most of the genes mutated in cancer are not pharmacologically addressable, “and this is one of the great limitations of precision medicine.”

Barbacid, who concluded the first day of precision medicine and onco-pathological approaches in pediatric and young adult tumors at the University Hospital of La Paz, reported that treatment with a single drug is possible in childhood tumors with very few additional mutations, But in adults, with advanced tumors and so many mutations, it is “impossible” for a single drug to work.

The scientist, who also directs the pancreas cancer research project of the CRIS Foundation Against Cancer, pointed out that the “good news in precision medicine” is that, thanks to tumor DNA sequencing, almost all mutations are now known. Involved in human cancers, “but the bad news is that there are a lot of them.

He specified that although not all of them are involved – “because otherwise it would be a case of throwing in the towel” – in the case of lung adenocarcinoma, there are more than 30,000 mutations, which makes it “a tough beast to work with”. Is .”

Barbacid has explained that the major challenge of precision medicine is “resistance” which has many causes and clarified that cancer “is not one tumor cell that has grown too much, the problem is that they are not the same cells”, and even As soon as a new drug eliminates the main mutation, new mutations reappear.

“And as long as there is heterogeneity in tumors, there is a big problem in precision medicine,” he said.

For this reason, he believes that the future of precision medicine involves the use of “degradation inhibitors” (drugs that reprogram the proteins responsible for cancer) that act against different mutations, but also pose another problem. Occurs: Toxicity, which limits treatment.

In short, Barbacid posits that this is a “Gordian knot” that must be overcome so that “precision medicine can be more useful than it is today, especially in solid, adult, and advanced tumors, which cause more deaths. “

Barbacid, who discovered the KRAS oncogene responsible for the onset of pancreatic cancer 40 years ago, has also described this oncogene as the most urgent challenge for precision medicine because it is mutated in a quarter of all adult tumors, especially type two. Among the most frequently occurring tumors. (lung and colorectal) and first in aggressiveness, pancreatic, with a survival of 5%.

Regarding this last tumor, he cited the work of a Michigan researcher who analyzed the pancreas of people who died of causes other than cancer. Preneoplastic lesions of the KRAS oncogene were found in practically all of these pancreases, which the scientist considered “worrying.”

Finally, he stressed that if these tumors could be cured with precision medicine “it would be one of the greatest advances in oncology.” efe


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