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Read short, plain-language summaries of significant research papers that CCR scientists and their collaborators have contributed to the oncology research community. Go

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Vol. 7, No. 2, 2013 - RAS Takes Center Stage. Wreaking cellular havoc in approximately one-third of all cancers, oncogenic RAS signaling has been extensively studied in the 30 years since the gene first associated with rat sarcoma virus was identified in human tumors. But, devising anticancer drugs that target RAS proteins has remained frustratingly elusive. Go

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    RAS Takes Center Stage
    Wreaking cellular havoc in approximately one-third of all cancers, oncogenic RAS signaling has been extensively studied in the 30 years since the gene first associated with rat sarcoma virus was identified in human tumors. But, devising anticancer drugs that target RAS proteins has remained frustratingly elusive. RAS molecular structures lack obvious pockets for small molecule disruption and early attempts to inhibit an enzymatically driven modification of RAS (farnesylation) thought to be necessary for its translocation to the cellular membrane led to disappointing failure in clinical trials. As scientists have continued to focus on the details of RAS signaling and the extensive molecular network under its control, however, their persistence is beginning to pay off: new therapeutic approaches are once again on the horizon.

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    Putting Peptides to Work
    When people think about amino acids, they may worry about getting their daily nutritional requirement to build and maintain muscle. For the more biologically sophisticated thinker, amino acids are the building blocks of peptides and proteins, which are the primary effectors of our genetic code—the enzymes and transporters and regulators of cellular function in health and disease. When Joel Schneider, Ph.D., Chief of CCR’s Chemical Biology Laboratory, thinks about amino acids, he sees them as the building blocks of new materials.

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    Global Amplification: A New Look at Transcriptional Regulation
    Biologists often identify and describe cells based on the molecules they express. The expression of certain genes can be used to separate a stem cell from a neuron, a cancerous cell from a healthy one. However, as cells grow and adapt, they change not just the types of genes they express but the amount of that expression. David Levens, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Investigator in CCR’s Laboratory of Pathology, and Rafael Casellas, Ph.D., Senior Investigator with the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) and Adjunct Investigator in CCR’s Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics, came together to study genome-wide transcriptional regulation in B cells from two very different vantage points. Together, they are discovering that global transcriptional amplification is a uniquely regulated process.

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