Oncology, Pre-clinical

Preclinical study shines a light on BET inhibitors’ potential to prevent obesity-related cancer growth

A small molecule inhibitor of the bromodomain and extra-terminal protein family (BET) may slow down and even prevent the growth of breast and lung cancers, researchers report.

In two studies published in Cancer Prevention Research today, scientists showed that the drug compound, I-BET-762, had effects on both tumor and immune cells. As a result, it reduced the amount of existing cancer cells in mice by 80% and prevented 50% of precancerous human cells from becoming cancerous.

“This drug not only induced growth arrest and downregulated c-Myc, pSTAT3, and pERK protein expression in tumor cells in vitro and in vivo but also altered immune populations in different organs.” the researchers write about the mouse model.

Similar BET inhibitors are currently in clinical trials for cancer treatments, including a dual BET/kinase program at Aptose. But the Michigan State University researchers argue that it has a great potential in cancer prevention, especially when it comes to malignant cell transformation and tumor growth stimulated by visceral fat.

Jamie Bernard

To demonstrate that, the researchers treated both the mice and cell lines with fibroblast growth factor-2. The protein, which promotes cancerous change, is induced by excess visceral fat — the type that wraps around organs.

“Almost half a million of all new cancers have been linked to obesity,” said Jamie Bernard, a Michigan State University professor who led one of the studies. “There is evidence that visceral fat and high-fat diets can increase cancer risk; and while current cancer treatments have helped to lower cancer mortality, the number of obesity-associated cancers continues to climb.”

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
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Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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