Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Discovery brings hope of new tailor-made anti-cancer agents

Scientists at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and their collaborators have tailor-made a new chemical compound that blocks a protein that has been linked to poor responses to treatment in cancer patients.

The development of the compound, called WEHI-539, is an important step towards the design of a potential new anti-cancer agent. WEHI-539 has been designed to bind and block the function of a protein called BCL-XL that normally prevents cells from dying.

The death and elimination of abnormal cells in the body is an important safeguard against cancer development. But cancer cells often acquire genetic changes that allow them to bypass cell death, which also reduces the effectiveness of anti-cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.

Cancer cells can become long-lived by producing high levels of BCL-XL protein, and high levels of BCL-XL are also associated with poorer outcomes for patients with lung, stomach, colon and pancreatic cancer.

Dr Guillaume Lessene, Professor Keith Watson and Professor David Huang from the institute's ACRF Chemical Biology division, and Dr Peter Czabotar and Professor Peter Colman from the institute's Structural Biology division led the development of WEHI-539 in collaboration with colleagues at Genentech, a member of the Roche group. The research is published online today in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

Dr Lessene said the development of WEHI-539 was an important milestone on the way to creating potential anti-cancer agents that act to restore cell death by inhibiting BCL-XL. "Although WEHI-539 is not optimised for use in patients, it will be a very valuable tool for researchers to use to dissect how BCL-XL controls cancer cell survival," he said.

WEHI-539 belongs to a class of chemicals called 'BH3-mimetics', which all bind to the same region of BCL-XL or related proteins. Two BH3-mimetics, called navitoclax (ABT-263) and ABT-199/GDC-0199 are currently in clinical trials for the treatment of cancer, particularly those of the blood and lymph glands (leukaemia and lymphoma).

Dr Lessene said WEHI-539 was the product of a sustained research program. "We were very excited to see the team's work culminate in a compound that specifically inhibits BCL-XL," he said. "WEHI-539 is the first compound that our chemists have developed from scratch, using the three-dimensional structure of BCL-XL to build and refine its design."

The research was supported by the Australian Research Council, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the US Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Cancer Council Victoria, the Australian Cancer Research Foundation and the Victorian Government.

Vanessa Solomon | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>