Washington: A new research now finds that scientists from the University of Sheffield have discovered a compound that could be more effective in treating a few types of cancers than standard chemotherapy.
While chemotherapy is still the first line of defence for most cancer tumours and is often highly effective, many cancers are naturally resistant, or develop resistance, to commonly used first-line chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin.
Researchers have identified new drug-candidates that would work against these types of treatment resistant cancers. The paper was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
In the study, scientists screened new compounds made in the lab against a "panel" of cancers that were sensitive and resistant to standard cancer therapy. They further tested the compounds with non-malignant cells to see how toxic they were to normal cells.
They found two lead compounds that had low toxicity to non-malignant cells, but were highly active against cancer cells sensitive or resistant to standard treatment. Speaking about it, Professor Jim Thomas, said, "Many cancer cells, about 20 per cent become resistant to common treatments by learning to ignore the internal signals that tell them to undergo programmed cell death, known as apoptosis.”
He further added, “We have identified a compound that kills cancer cells that avoids the need for apoptosis, and so the usual resistance mechanism doesn't work against our compound.” According to Thomas, the compound is as potent as common current chemotherapeutics, but crucially retains its potency against treatment-resistant cancers.
By looking at the cellular response from the cancers the researchers found the new drug lead works by two different mechanisms simultaneously, making it much more difficult for cancers to develop resistance toward them during treatment. "We think this compound could be particularly effective against ovarian cancer," he added.
The team used a technique called "proteomics" to determine how thousands of proteins in the cells responded to exposure to the drug lead. Professor Carl Smythe, said, "Proteomics is a remarkably powerful approach we have in Sheffield to identify how living things respond to new drug candidates. The multiple mechanisms of action of the new molecules were an unexpected and exciting result."
Researchers now want to carry out further studies to find out if the compound can be used in combination with current treatments to improve their performance.