Ion Channels in Precision Medicine-Promising Cancer Biomarkers
Cancer is a diverse group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Increasingly, roles for the upregulation of certain ion channels and transporters in cancer is being described and understood. We are actively working with leading scientists at the forefront of cancer and ion channel research in the dual aims of developing biomarker assays and effective and reliable drug screening methods. Ion transport across the cell membrane is an important event found in fundamental tumour cell functions including the regulation of cell volume, migration, progression, proliferation as well as cell death. All these functions are very important for the survival of tumour cells and metastasis. Tumour-relevant ion channels are usually overexpressed/upregulated by hormones and growth factors to a considerable extent. The upregulation of a specific ion channel causes a high demand for its activity and therefore becomes critically important for the survival of a tumour cell. This ion channel, therefore, may be considered as a specific target for the treatment of the respective tumour within the body.
Different cancers upregulate different ion channels and transporters. Specific pharmaceutical targeting of these proteins could lead to effective and safe therapeutic tools.
ICTs as Cancer Biomarkers – Increasing early diagnostic capabilities of cancer would benefit countless number of patients. In many cancers, certain ion channels and transporters (ICT) are upregulated and expressed in much greater numbers than usual. We are actively collaborating with several academic groups to develop high throughput ICT biomarker screens
ICTs as Therapeutic Targets in Cancer Therapy – The upregulation of certain ICTs in some cancers, as well as the roles that they play in cell proliferation and migration, indicates that ICTs may offer a useful therapeutic option in cancer treatment. The ICR is well suited to assays aimed at targeting electrogenic membrane proteins involved in cancer.
The important role of hERG in tumor treatment
Ion Channels are involved in signal transduction of tumor cells like proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis. Ion Channels are related to tumor invasion and metastasis, tumor angiogenesis, tumor chemosensitivity. The expression of hERG in tumor cells is significantly raised, while the expression is low or no expression in normal tissues from which tumor cells originated like neuroblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, adenoma, small cell lung cancer, hypophysoma, pancreatic B cell tumor, monocytic leukemia, endometrial cancer, breast cancer. Specific antagonists to hERG could suppress the expression of hERG in tumor cells that inhibit proliferation. This would be a new target for antitumor drug development.
Ion channels as cancer biomarkers
Inhibiting hERG in different types of cancer cells by using selective blockers that do not produce cardiac arrhythmia is a possible strategy for anticancer therapy. Regarding specific targets of tumor cells and normal cells, different isoforms or spliceosomes would be the breakthrough.