Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Modified drug gives a ‘green light’ for its own success


A modified anticancer drug can simultaneously target tumour sites and show whether or not it is working.

Cancer drugs can be modified to specifically target tumour sites to help personalize cancer treatment. And while it is relatively easy to determine if the drugs have been delivered to the correct location, it is more difficult to monitor their therapeutic success.

A modified platinum-based prodrug targets cancer cells and triggers cell death, or apoptosis, causing apoptosis sensors to fluoresce green.

© Ugreen/iStock/Thinkstock

Now, a team led by Bin Liu from the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore, in collaboration with Ben Zhong Tang at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, has developed an anticancer drug with an inbuilt mechanism that shows if it is working[1].

Platinum-based drugs are effective against many cancers, killing cells by triggering cellular suicide, or apoptosis. These drugs can, however, have severe side effects. Nontoxic forms can be modified, as a type of prodrug, to convert to their toxic form only after entering the targeted tumour cells, so as not to harm noncancerous cells.

Liu and colleagues went one step further by modifying a platinum-based prodrug to not only target tumor cells effectively, but also show whether or not it was having the desired effect. According to Liu, this added feature could be crucial for improving cancer treatment.

“Early evaluation of a patient’s response to a specific cancer therapy is important in clinical applications because it can minimize the duration of ineffective courses,” explains Liu. “The effectiveness of cancer treatment is commonly evaluated using magnetic resonance imaging to measure the tumor size, but this is unsatisfactory as the change in size is not obvious at the early stages of therapy.”

In their new system, Liu and her team included an apoptosis sensor that is released when the prodrug converts to its toxic form inside the targeted tumor cells. The toxic form triggers cell apoptosis and activates an enzyme called caspase 3, which then cleaves the apoptosis sensor and causes it to fluoresce green. This provides a visual signal that the drug is killing the cells.

Liu and her colleagues tested the mechanism by treating cultured cancer cells with the modified platinum prodrug. They observed a gradual increase in fluorescence in the cancer cells, reaching a maximum level of fluorescence six hours after treatment. Noncancerous cells were not affected in the same way, further proving the effectiveness of their targeting mechanism.

Such noninvasive and real-time imaging of drug-induced apoptosis could be used to evaluate the therapeutic response to a specific anticancer drug at an early stage, explains Liu. “Our system can simultaneously deliver the therapeutic drugs and noninvasively evaluate the therapeutic responses in situ.”

1. Yuan, Y., Kwok, R. T. K., Tang, B. Z., Liu, B. Targeted theranostic platinum(IV) prodrug with a built-in aggregation-induced emission light-up apoptosis sensor for noninvasive early evaluation of its therapeutic responses in situ. Journal of the American Chemical Society 136, 2546–2554 (2014).

Lee Swee Heng | Research SEA News
Further information:

Further reports about: A*STAR anticancer apoptosis drugs effectiveness mechanism therapeutic toxic tumour

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Reliable in-line inspections of high-strength automotive body parts within seconds

Nondestructive material testing (NDT) is a fast and effective way to analyze the quality of a product during the manufacturing process. Because defective materials can lead to malfunctioning finished products, NDT is an essential quality assurance measure, especially in the manufacture of safety-critical components such as automotive B-pillars. NDT examines the quality without damaging the component or modifying the surface of the material. At this year's Blechexpo trade fair in Stuttgart, Fraunhofer IZFP will have an exhibit that demonstrates the nondestructive testing of high-strength automotive body parts using 3MA. The measurement results are available in a matter of seconds.

To minimize vehicle weight and fuel consumption while providing the highest level of crash safety, automotive bodies are reinforced with elements made from...

Im Focus: Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.

As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...

Im Focus: Locusts at the wheel: University of Graz investigates collision detector inspired by insect eyes

Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.

Inspired by insects

Im Focus: Physicists shrink particle accelerator

Prototype demonstrates feasibility of building terahertz accelerators

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...

Im Focus: Simple detection of magnetic skyrmions

New physical effect: researchers discover a change of electrical resistance in magnetic whirls

At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing healthcare and sustainably strengthening healthcare systems

01.10.2015 | Event News

Conference in Brussels: Tracking and Tracing the Smallest Marine Life Forms

30.09.2015 | Event News

World Alzheimer`s Day – Professor Willnow: Clearer Insights into the Development of the Disease

17.09.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Unexpected information about Earth's climate history from Yellow River sediment

09.10.2015 | Earth Sciences

Single atom alloy platinum-copper catalysts cut costs, boost green technology

09.10.2015 | Life Sciences

Indefatigable Hearing

09.10.2015 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>