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Similarities of Small Cell Cancers to Blood Cancers Could Lead to Better Treatments



UCLA CTSI News Archive

Cancer Cell/UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center

Microscopic images show a non-small cell breast cancer, left, and small cell neuroendocrine breast cancer, right. Small cell neuroendocrine cancers typically feature smaller cells and larger nuclei in relation to cell size.

An interdisciplinary team of UCLA scientists has found that small cell neuroendocrine cancers from a range of tissues have a common molecular signature and share drug sensitivities with blood cancers. The discoveries could improve the diagnoses of these aggressive cancers and lead to the development of new treatments that build upon the lessons learned from successful blood cancer therapies.

The study, led by senior authors Thomas Graeber and Dr. Owen Witte, both of the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, was published in Cancer Cell.

Small neuroendocrine cell cancers — also known as small cell cancers — are a deadly cancer subtype, defined by their characteristics under the microscope. They are fast-growing, treatment-resistant and can appear in a range of epithelial tissues. They are most commonly found in the lungs, with rare cases occurring in the prostate, bladder, breast and skin. Small cell cancers may become increasingly common as non-small cell cancers can transform into this highly aggressive type to resist treatment.

See the UCLA press release for complete details. This research was supported by biostatistical services from UCLA CTSI.