Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hybrid molecule causes cancer cells to self-destruct

08.01.2007
Lab tests of sugar and short-chain fatty acid combo point to new strategy to combat disease

By joining a sugar to a short-chain fatty acid compound, Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a two-pronged molecular weapon that kills cancer cells in lab tests. The researchers cautioned that their double-punch molecule, described in the December issue of the journal Chemistry & Biology, has not yet been tested on animals or humans. Nevertheless, they believe it represents a promising new strategy for fighting the deadly disease.

"For a long time, cancer researchers did not pay much attention to the use of sugars in fighting cancer," said Gopalan Sampathkumar, a postdoctoral fellow in the university's Department of Biomedical Engineering and lead author of the journal article. "But we found that when the right sugar is matched with the right chemical partner, it can deliver a powerful double-whammy against cancer cells."

Sampathkumar and his colleagues built upon 20-year-old findings that a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate can slow the spread of cancer cells. In the 1980s, researchers discovered that butyrate, which is formed naturally at high levels in the digestive system by symbiotic bacteria that feed on fiber, can restore healthy cell functioning.

Efforts to use butyrate as a general drug for tumors elsewhere in the body, however, have been hindered by the high doses of the compound needed to effectively eradicate cancer. To get around this problem, scientists have tried to make butyrate more potent by modifying it or joining it to other compounds. Usually, the results have been disappointing because the molecular partner added to butyrate to improve delivery to the cancer cells often produced unsafe side effects.

In some of the less successful experiments, designed to avoid toxic side effects, researchers used innocuous sugar molecules such as glucose to carry butyrate into the cells. The Johns Hopkins team tried a different tack. "We didn't think they chose the right partner molecule," said Kevin J. Yarema, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering who supervised the project. "Our insight was to select the sugar partner to serve not just as a passive carrier but as additional ammunition in the fight against cancer."

The researchers focused on a sugar called N-acetyl-D-mannosamine, or ManNAc, for short. The team created a hybrid molecule by linking ManNAc with butyrate. The hybrid easily penetrates a cell's surface, then is split apart by enzymes inside the cell. Once inside the cell, ManNAc is processed into another sugar known as sialic acid that plays key roles in cancer biology, while butyrate orchestrates the expression of genes responsible for halting the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells.

Although the study of the exact molecular mechanism is in its early stages, the researchers believe the separate chemical components work together to bolster the cancer-fighting power of butyrate. The double attack triggers cellular suicide, also called apoptosis, in the cancer cells.

To find out whether this butyrate-ManNAc hybrid alone would produce the positive results, the researchers tested three other sugar-butyrate combinations and a butyrate salt compound with no sugar attached. The four other formulas and the butyrate-ManNAc hybrid were each added to lab dishes containing cancer cells. After three to five days, cancer growth had slowed in all of the dishes. After 15 days, however, cancer growth had resumed in dishes treated with four of the compounds. But in samples treated with the butyrate-ManNAc hybrid, all of the cancer cells had died.

The researchers also wanted to find out whether administering the two parts of the hybrid independently would achieve the same result. But in these experiments, the cancer cells did not self-destruct. The researchers suspect this is because the hybrid molecules more easily penetrate the surface of the cell than the individual chemicals. Once the components are inside, the researchers believe the partners help enzymes to resume the normal assembly of sugar molecules and correct aberrant gene expression patterns, two processes that go awry when cancer occurs.

Now that they've identified the butyrate-ManNAc molecule as a potential cancer fighter, the Johns Hopkins team members are expanding their research, looking for new drug-delivery methods and preparing for animal testing. The researchers believe the hybrid molecule will have minimal effect on healthy cells. Through the Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer Office, they have filed an application for a U.S. patent covering this class of compounds.

Phil Sneiderman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhu.edu
http://www.bme.jhu.edu
http://www.functionalglycomics.org/

Further reports about: Cancer HYBRID butyrate butyrate-ManNAc cancer cells

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht 'Y' a protein unicorn might matter in glaucoma
23.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry
23.10.2017 | Rice University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>