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Can Almost See It

Cancer researchers are optimistic that the seemingly undruggable mutant Ras may soon be able to be targeted, Newsweek reports.

Mutant kras, nras, and hras have been implicated in nearly a third of human cancers, with mutant kras found in nearly every pancreatic, half of colorectal, and third of lung cancer patients, Newsweek adds. Even though the role of Ras proteins in cancer has been known for decades, researchers have had trouble targeting it because it's been tricky to get drugs to attach to the protein surface and has been difficult to target solely mutant versions.

But now, Newsweek says that efforts by the US National Cancer Institute's Ras Initiative and private firms like Warp Drive Bio are chipping away at Ras' defensives. For instance, Warp Drive's Greg Verdine theorizes that nature already solved the problem of binding ras and he is searching through bacterial and fungal genomes for products that do just that. At the same time, Johnson & Johnson has licensed a covalent inhibitor of Kras from University of California, San Francisco, researchers, Newsweek adds.

"Now I can see a path forward for developing drugs against Kras," UCSF's Frank McCormick, who is also leading the NCI initiative, says. He cautions, though, that that it will still take some time to get from the lab to patients.