FAQ
Log In
Sunday 4th December 2016
News
 › 
 › 

Cancer breakthrough

29th August 2006

20072006_cells1.jpgA University of Illinois team has created a synthetic molecule which caused cancer cells to self-destruct. Experts say the study, published in Nature Chemical Biology, gave "exciting possibilities" for new ways of treating the disease.

A characteristic of cancer cells is their resistance to the body's cell suicide signals, therefore allowing them to survive and develop into tumours. All cells contain a protein called procaspase-3, which the body should be able to turn into caspase-3, an 'executioner' enzyme.

The transformation of the protein procaspase-3 into caspase-3 does not happen in cancer cells. Examining more than 20,000 structurally different synthetic compounds the researchers attempted to trigger procaspase-3 development into caspase-3.

They found the molecule PAC-1 triggered the transformation; the more procaspase-3 a cancer cell had, the less of the molecule was needed.

Healthy cells, for example white blood cells, have much lower levels of procaspase-3, and were found to be significantly less affected by the addition of PAC-1. Testing PAC-1 on cancerous and non-cancerous tissue from the same person, researchers found the tumour cells were 2,000-fold more sensitive to PAC-1.

The lead researcher, Professor Paul Hergenrother, said: "This is the first in what could be a host of organic compounds with the ability to directly activate executioner enzymes", adding that patients could be selected for treatment based on the amount of procaspase-3 found in their tumour cells.

Dr Michael Olson, an expert from Cancer Research UK said: "These findings present an exciting new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of some cancers. However he said more clinical trials were needed to confirm the safety of the treatment.

Share this page

Comments

There are no comments for this article, be the first to comment!


Post your comment

Only registered users can comment. Fill in your e-mail address for quick registration.

Your email address:

Your comment will be checked by a Healthcare Today moderator before it is published on the site.

M3 - For secure managed hosting over N3 or internet
© Mayden Foundation 2016