Recent evidence indicates that cells within a tumor are heterogeneous and represent different stages of development. In certain types of cancer, a population of cells has been identified that are termed cancer stem cells, where a cancer stem cell is defined as a cell that has the capacity to self-renew and to cause the heterogeneous lineages of cancer cells that comprise a tumor.
Dartmouth researchers have now found that testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT cells) are extremely responsive to the DNA methylation inhibitor decitabine (5-aza-deoxycytidine or 5-aza-CdR). Doses of decitabine that are at least an order of magnitude lower than doses used clinically to treat leukemia (e.g., doses in the low nanomolar range) have been found to be effective in inhibiting growth of TGCT cells. The hypersensitivity of TGCT cells was also found to be associated with high levels of expression of the pluripotency-associated DNA methyltransferase 3B (DNMT3B). Thus, increased expression of DNMT3B serves as a biomarker of sensitivity to low dose decitabine in the cancer stem cells of testicular cancer (i.e., embryonal carcinoma cells). Moreover, the same sensitivity is expected for cancer stem cells of other tumor types.
This technology is claimed in a pending PCT patent application. We are seeking an industrial partner interested in its commercialization. (Ref: J528)
Last Updated: 7/24/12