Cancer: a mechanism responsible for relapses has been identified

The work of Cédric Blanpain's group is published in Nature

Resistance to treatment is a major problem for cancer patients, especially because they are the cause of tumor recurrence. A team of U-CRC and Spanish researchers, led by Cédric Blanpain (Stem Cell and Cancer Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine) has identified a population of tumor cells responsible for resistance to treatment and relapses in the most common cancer in humans: basal cell carcinoma. In their study published in the journal Nature, Adriana Sánchez-Danés and her colleagues describe the mechanisms by which vismodegib - a drug used to treat basal cell carcinomas - induces tumor regression. The researchers showed that vismodegib induces the differentiation of the majority of tumor cells, leading to their elimination. However, vismodegib treatment leads to the emergence of a population of dormant tumor cells, characterized by the activation of the Wnt signaling pathway. The researchers also found that concomitant inhibition of the Wnt signaling pathway with vismodegib treatment suppresses tumor cells that are resistant to treatment and thus leads to tumor eradication in the vast majority of cases. Both drugs already exist in the clinic: the next step will be to conduct a clinical study on the administration of these two drugs in patients with relapses of basal cell carcinoma.