September 28, 2011
Research by Dr. Yi Ye, a post doctoral researcher in the cancer pain laboratory of Dr. Brian Schmidt at New York University, links a protein produced by cancers (NGF) to inflammation, cancer progression, pain, and cachexia.
In her article, Dr. Ye points out that cancers often cause excruciating pain and rapid weight loss (cachexia), severely reducing quality of life in cancer patients. Cancer-induced pain and cachexia are often studied and treated independently, although both symptoms are strongly linked with chronic inflammation and sustained production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Since nerve growth factor (NGF) plays a cardinal role in inflammation, and pain, and because it interacts with multiple pro-inflammatory cytokines, Ye hypothesized that NGF acts as a key endogenous molecule involved in the orchestration of cancer-related inflammation. NGF might be common to the mechanisms responsible for clinically distinctive cancer symptoms such as pain and cachexia as well as cancer progression. She reports that NGF is highly elevated in human oral squamous cell carcinoma tumors and cell cultures. Using two preclinical cancer models, she further demonstrates that NGF blockade decreases tumor proliferation, nociception (pain), and weight loss by orchestrating pro-inflammatory cytokines and leptin production. NGF blockade also decreases expressed levels of the nociceptive receptors TRPV1, TRPA1, and PAR-2. Together, these results identify NGF as a common mechanistic link that leads to proliferation, pain, and cachexia in oral cancer. Molecules that block the action of NGF (Anti-NGF) could be an important mechanism-based therapy for oral cancer and its related symptoms.
To read the full article link to Molecular Cancer Therapeutics: http://mct.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2011/07/12/1535-7163.MCT-11-0123
Dr Ye received her PhD in Neurophysiology from the University of Wyoming and was a post doctoral research fellow under Dr. Brian Schmidt at the University of California, San Francisco. Now conducting research with Schmidt at NYU, Ye will soon receive a master’s degree in clinical research at NYU College of Dentistry. Dr. Ye hopes to translate her work from the laboratory into clinical trials at the NYU Bluestone Center for Clinical Research.