Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A new analysis found unique networks of hundreds of proteins that may drive the growth of breast, head and neck cancers, according to three studies out today.

Why it matters: Cancers differ in many aspects, including their mutations. But, there are some common systems of cells involved, including protein networks, that may affect cancer growth and scientists hope to target them with therapies.

  • By better understanding protein-protein interaction (PPI) networks and their role in driving cancers, scientists can greatly expand the number of potential drug targets.
  • "PPIs are critical because they extend far beyond gene lists to define the protein biochemistry of tumor pathways and druggable targets," Stanford University School of Medicine's Ran Cheng and Peter Jackson say in a perspective piece.
  • By creating innovative methods to examine PPI data and cancers, they write, there's a greater chance of reaching "the promise of better personalized medicine identifying the relevant therapy for each patient."

The latest: The journal Science Thursday posted studies with an analysis that mapped 395 protein systems in 13 cancer types, focusing on data from studies on head and neck squamous cell cancers and breast cancers.

  • The three related papers examined how hundreds of mutations in breast and head and neck cancers affect the activity of proteins that drive the diseases.
  • They also discovered some hard-t0-detect mutations in some proteins that may affect tumor growth as well as some biomarkers that could be used in clinical sequencing panels.
  • For head and neck cancer, they found 771 PPIs, 84% of which were never reported before. The breast cancer findings include locating two proteins that affect the function of the tumor-suppressor gene BRCA1 and two proteins that regulate PIK3CA, which have been linked to breast cancer.

What they're saying: Raghu Kalluri, chairman of cancer biology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, tells Axios these studies offer "good progress" toward efforts to "identify things that were not identified before as vulnerabilities, for which there may be drugs available."

  • "Looking at how proteins interact with others, in a broad sense of a network that formed to control the fate of a cancer cell, will provide us with new insights into other proteins that could be impacted," says Kalluri, who was not part of these studies.
  • However, more validation from other groups and using genetic mouse models are needed, he adds.

What's next: Researchers will continue working on the big question: which mutations in different genes affect the interactions of proteins that drive cancer growth, Marcus Kelly, postdoctoral researcher and a co-author of one of the papers, tells Axios.

  • "We are looking at these protein systems at multiple scales. Some of these protein systems are kind of small clumps of proteins that basically always stick together, and others are these signaling pathways that involve a bunch of different proteins, handing information off to each other," he says.
  • "It's important to test those different scales because the mutations may be affecting processes on different scales as well," Kelly says.
  • See their interactive map of the protein systems here.

Go deeper

Rep. Sewell: Expanding health coverage could be key to early cancer detection

Axios' Caitlin Owens and Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) speaking at an Axios event on Wednesday.

Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) told Axios during an event Wednesday she hopes the extended premium tax credits from President Biden's social spending bill will be key to detecting cancers earlier, if the legislation passes.

Why it matters: Sewell said some 300,000 people in her home state of Alabama fall into the "Medicaid gap" — meaning they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to afford their own insurance.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she remains cancer-free

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said Wednesday that her first six-month post-cancer exam showed that "everything was clear."

The big picture: Klobuchar revealed in September that she had been diagnosed with stage 1A breast cancer in February. She completed radiation treatment in May and "it was determined in August that the treatment went well."

2 hours ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.