Cancer is an international issue and there is much effort in trying to understand the disease’s functions and mechanisms to combat its devastating effects. At INBT, one of the Institute’s main research area is Engineering for Cancer Therapies. Two of the Institute’s researchers, Denis Wirtz and his postdoctoral fellow Hasini Jayatilaka, have made an important contribution to cancer research by discovering chemical signals that triggers cancer cells to metastasize and a cocktail of drugs that assists in disrupting the process.
Jayatilaka and Wirtz found two proteins that signal cancer cells in tumors to break away and spread throughout the body. These proteins are known as Interleukin 6 and Interleukin 8. With the combined use of two drugs, Tocilizumab and Reparaxin, they assist in disrupting this process to significantly slow the possibility of metastasis. This is an important discovery since 90% of cancer deaths are caused by metastasis.
Since its publication in Nature Communications on May 26, 2017, the study has become the second most read paper in Nature Communications, bringing in over 11,000 views. The research has been featured in 50 media outlets across the United States and internationally. Jayatilaka has also appeared on the Varney & Co show on the Fox Business network to discuss the research.
The other senior authors of the study are Daniele M. Gilkes in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Rong Fan at Yale University. Co-authors from Johns Hopkins University include Pranay Tyle, Julia Ju, Hyun Ji Kim, and Pei-Hsun Wu. Co-authors from Yale include Jonathan J. Chen and Minsuk Kwak. Jerry S. H. Lee of the Johns Hopkins Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives at the National Cancer Institute, was also a co-author.