Cancer treatment vary in success. Although in the lab many drugs may show promising results, when the time comes for those drugs to be tested in humans, those drugs end up failing or underperforming most of the times. Another common case is for drugs to lose their effectiveness on an individual after a while.
A recent study reviews how alternative splicing of drug targets may be what causes this effect.
Alternative splicing is a process that occurs during gene expression and basically allows some genes to code for multiple proteins. So, if for example a gene contains several introns and exons, some of them may be transcribed under some conditions and some other during other conditions. There are different factors causing this effect and in some cases it is thought that this is why drugs stop working.
If a drug induces a gene to be spliced and processed differently, resulting in a different protein, then that drug will have a different or a non-existent effect on that new protein.
It is an interesting idea, and there are evidence that suggest this is true, although it is hard to say whether such a change is purely caused by the drug itself or by some other influence the drug has to the patient. An alternative would be to develop drugs that work by stopping alternative splicing and ensuring only one variant of a protein is produced. Those drugs could be then given along with normal drugs that target the proteins that cause cancer thus solving the problem. This can have significant limitations though, since each drug may have its own risks for an individual and combinations of drugs may induce side effects.
Such an approach has been used before for other diseases and it may prove to be useful for treating cancer too. Lately there has been a lot of research and a good amount of treatments developed to treat cancer. It is a very serious issue after all.
If you want more details on the topic you can read the full source of this article linked at the end and follow Qul Mind for more science news.
Image: By National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NCBI’s Genome Decoration Page.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ideogram_human_chromosome_1.svg