Project TitleTargeting Stem Cell Signaling Molecules for New Cancer Interventions
Track Code2013-139
Short Description

Novel therapeutic and diagnostic agents targeting the Nodal and Notch4 pathway in cancer stem cells.

#diagnostic #therapeutics #cancer #stemcells


Northwestern researchers are developing a number of therapeutic and diagnostic agents targeting the Nodal and Notch4 pathway. Because normal adult tissues do not generally express these cancer stem cell molecules, they are potentially excellent therapeutic targets and diagnostic indicators of disease progression. Currently, conventional therapies do not target cancer stem cells effectively. As the minority subpopulation of heterogeneous tumors, cancer stem cells are the most difficult to detect and the most challenging to target. Thus, successful targeting of these tumorigenic cells may prove to be an effective therapy to achieve tumor regression. In their studies, the scientists discovered that the Nodal and Notch4 molecules and their interrelated signaling pathways underlie the cancer stem cell phenotype, unregulated tumor growth and metastasis, and acquisition of drug resistance. Consequently, they decided to develop a combinatorial therapeutic strategy that targets Nodal and Notch4 following conventional therapies. They have seen evidence of not only tumor cell growth arrest but also increased drug sensitivity in tumor cells. To date, they have tested their molecules in vitro (using human cancer cell lines), in vivo (using Nude mice) and in situ (using clinical samples). Their experimental studies have shown that Nodal is a biomarker for tumor progression and that there is significant molecular cross-talk between Notch4 and Nodal. Importantly, they have found that delivering Nodal antibodies or Lefty (Nodal's natural inhibitor) to animals bearing tumors induces apoptosis (cell death) in Nodal-positive tumor cells.

TagsDIAGNOSTIC: cancer, THERAPEUTICS: cancer, THERAPEUTICS: stem cells
Posted DateAug 22, 2013 4:52 PM


Mary Hendrix*

Elisabeth Seftor

Richard Seftor


ยท     Biomarker for Disease Progression (melanoma, dysplastic nevi, breast cancer, prostate cancer, glioblastoma, neuroblastoma, pancreatic cancer and leukemia)


  • Cancer stem cell-specific markers
  •  In vivo data


IP Status

Issued US Patent Nos. 8,106,004 and 7,666,423

Additional patent applications have been filed.

Contact Information

Michael Moore, PhD

Invention Manager

(p) 847.491.4645