A relapse or recurrence is one of the major post-cancer treatment concerns that patients have to contend with.
This is because despite receiving the best and most advanced forms of cancer treatment, there is always a chance that a relapse occur. Usually, a relapse occurs when a few original cancerous cells survive the initial treatment.
A relapse may also occur if the cancer cells had spread to other parts of the body or were too limited or too small to be detected during follow- up treatment, therapy and monitoring. These surviving cells then go on to grow into a new cancerous tumour. Over the years, targeting, trapping or eliminating uncontrolled self-renewing cancerous cells has proven difficult and challenging. But now, a drug that may be clinically well-tolerated in cancer patients has been identified as a possible intervention in the prevention of cancer relapse after treatment. The experimental drug known as Quisinostat was singled out by researchers from the Francis Crick Institute.
In the first stage of the drug’s trials, Quisinostat was found to be capable of stopping the regrowth of cancer tumours after the initial treatment. It was also found to be capable of preventing expansion of surviving human cancer cells in culture. “This drug works by increasing the amount of a protein called histone H1.0 within the tumour cells. The protein histone H1.0 stops the cancer from replicating and subsequently puts a stop to tumour growth,” said the study report published in the medical journal Nature Communications. The researchers tested the drug on mice and human patient cells. When tested on mice, the drug was found to stop tumour growth. When it was tested on cells taken from cancer patients, Quisinostat trapped cancerous cells in a non-dividing state. This was recorded on patients with breast cancer, lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. “This drug worked by disabling the cells that lead to long-term cancer growth and drive the recurrence of cancer. It is most likely going to be more effective than commonly used drugs that inhibit tumour growth,” said Dr Cristina Morales, the Principal Laboratory Research Scientist in the Cancer Epigenetics Laboratory, who led the study.