New Research Could Help Find New Selective Therapies For Cancer
Researchers have developed a compound that targets a specific enzyme over-expressed in certain cancers. The team synthesized a first-of-its-kind inhibitor that prevents the activity of an enzyme called neuraminidase.
Researchers collaborated with a group in Milan, Italy, that has shown that neuraminidases are found in excess amounts in glioblastoma cells, a form of brain cancer.
The study tested the new enzyme inhibitor and found that it turned glioblastoma cancer stem cells- found within a tumor and believed to drive cancer growth- into normal cells.
The compound also caused the cells to stop growing, hinting that the mechanism could be important for therapeutics.
"This is the first proof-of-concept showing a selective neuraminidase inhibitor can have a real effect in human cancer cells," said Chemistry professor Christopher Cairo, who with his team synthesized the inhibitor. "It isn't a drug yet, but it establishes a new target that we think can be used for creating new, more selective drugs."
"I expected it would do something, but I didn't know it would be that striking. It came out beautifully," Cairo said.
Researchers are already working on improving the compound, and developing and testing new and existing inhibitors using a panel of in vitro assays they developed.
"We've been working on these enzymes for about five years. Validation of our strategy-design of a selective neuraminidase inhibitor and application in a cell that overexpresses that enzyme-is an achievement for us," Cairo added.
The findings of the study has been published in the journal Cell Death & Disease.