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Baylor College of Medicine News

Study unlocks new molecular clues about rare uterine cancer

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute-designated Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine have identified new information about the molecular characteristics of a rare, aggressive form of uterine cancer that could potentially be used to develop new treatments.

"Patients with uterine leiomyosarcoma have very few treatment options," said Dr. Matt Anderson, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at BCM and the lead author of the study appearing online in the American Association of Cancer Research's journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Molecular mechanisms

With support from the Sarcoma Foundation of America, Anderson and his team sought more insight on the molecular mechanisms that contribute to the development of this type of cancer.

"Our goal in the fight against this cancer is to see how we can rationally design better treatment," said Anderson. "Current treatment options are really limited to a very small number of chemotherapies and there are limits to how well even those agents really work."

Cell division

Using genomic and gene expression techniques in the laboratory to study tissues from the uterine leiomyosarcomas, cancers that originate in the muscular walls of the uterus, the team found that the overwhelming characteristic of these types of uterine cancers is the overexpression of gene products involved in regulating specific aspects of cell division.

"The question now is how do we use this information to improve peoples' lives," said Anderson. "Our initial works shows that small molecule inhibitors targeting the gene products we have identified may be very useful for stopping the growth of uterine leiomyosarcoma."

Additional authors include Weiwei Shan, Patricia Y. Akinfenwa, Rudolfo Laucirica, Chad J. Creighton, all of BCM; Dina C. Lev Kari B. Savannah, both at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Nonna Kolomeyevskaya and Kunle Odunsi at Roswell Park Cancer Center and Dafydd G. Thomas of the University of Michigan School of Medicine in Ann Arbor.