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Targeted Attack

Scientists declare war on a protein implicated in some stubborn forms of cancer

By
8:32am, August 23, 2005

A rose may be a rose, no matter what you call it, but cancer does not follow the same rules. Although every cancer arises from an uncontrolled reproduction of cells, tumors can appear in nearly any body part. In different people, tumors in the same organ can arise from different cellular abnormalities. However, as scientists zero in on the molecular details of each type of cancer in an attempt to tailor treatments to its peculiar biology, they're also looking for biochemical traits that groups of cancer cells share. They're searching for a single treatment strategy applicable to many patients.

A promising new target of this sort is a receptor protein called EGFR, which has long been known to be overactive in a variety of tumors. The complicated story of how EGFR can cause normal cell division to go haywire is now beginning to come together. As scientists tease out the details, they are developing drugs that block EGFR, thereby reducing tumor size and lengthening people's live

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