Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sea creature's toxin could lead to promising cancer treatment

07.02.2007
A toxin derived from a reclusive sea creature resembling a translucent doughnut has inspired UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers to develop a related compound that shows promise as a cancer treatment.

In a study appearing online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the UT Southwestern scientists detail how the toxin blocks uninhibited reproduction of cultured human cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected.

An accompanying study in PNAS shows that, in pre-clinical trials, a synthetic form of the toxin reduced human tumors implanted in mice without the harmful side effects seen using other cancer drugs. "Diazonamide is a special molecule – it's teaching us more than we imagined," said Dr. Patrick Harran, professor of biochemistry and a senior author on both studies.

"This is a truly exciting result," said Dr. John Schwab, a program officer at the National Insti tutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partly funded the work. "Not only has this UT Southwestern team identified a potent anti-cancer drug, but its unique mode of action avoids the kinds of side effects that make cancer chemotherapy so difficult. It's a great example of how NIH support for fundamental chemical research can benefit the American health-care consumer."

The animal, Diazona angulata, is a sea squirt a few inches wide that lives in colonies anchored to rocks. It was discovered offshore of the Philippines in 1990 as scientists were looking for species that might lead to useful drugs. From a few specimens, scientists extracted a tiny amount of a toxin, diazonamide A, which the animal probably uses to repel predators.

The toxin proved to kill cancer cells in culture, but so little of its natural form was available that a race soon began to synthesize it in the laboratory.

A chemical structure for diazonamide A was published in 1991, but in 2001, Dr. Harran's group showed that initial report to be incorrect, and uncovered the correct structure. In the first of the two new studies, Dr. Harran and his co-workers synthesized several variants of diazonamide A in order to pin down how it prevents cancer cells from dividing.

Normal cell division involves a structure called the mitotic spindle, which pulls apart the chromosomes before the cell splits. The spindle is primarily made out of a substance called tubulin. Some anti-cancer drugs attack tubulin, but they have serious side effects, such as nerve damage and depletion of bone marrow and white blood cells.

The UT Southwestern researchers found that while diazonamide A blocked cell division, it seemed not to bind directly to tubulin. Instead, Dr. Xiaodong Wang, professor of biochemistry, and Dr. Gelin Wang, instructor of biochemistry, found that the toxin interacted with an enzyme called OAT, which was known to be involved in cellular metabolism but had no previously known role in cell division.

Interestingly, diazonamide did not block OAT's enzyme activity, the researchers said. Rather, it uncovered a second function for the protein in cell division.

"The finding that OAT is the cellular target of diazonamide is surprising for two reasons: First, there is no previous report that a mitochondrial enzyme like OAT can play a direct role in mitosis; second, OAT seems dispensable for normal cell division occurring in mice and men but is required for the division of cancer cells. This may explain the cancer specificity of diazonamide," said Dr. Wang, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

Dr. Noelle Williams, assistant professor of biochemistry and internal medicine, led the second phase of the research, which tested the effect of a variant of diazonamide A, called AB-5, in mice with tumors.

AB-5 has a structure nearly identical to diazonamide A and is indistinguishable in its biological action, but is easier to synthesize in the lab.

The researchers tested AB-5's effectiveness against cancer by implanting human tumor cells under the skin of m ice and treating them with either paclitaxel (Taxol) or vinblastine – both approved drugs currently used – or AB-5. The trial used tumor cells from human prostate, breast and colon cancers.

While all three drugs reduced tumors in the mice, the known drugs caused significant weight loss and loss of white blood cells while AB-5 caused neither side effect. "That the diazonamide toxin blocks mitosis selectively in cancer cells is almost too desirable an outcome to be true," said Dr. Steven McKnight, chairman of biochemistry and senior author of the second study. "As with any other unanticipated scientific discovery, the validity of these observations will be held to appropriately diligent scrutiny."

Aline McKenzie | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu

Further reports about: Biochemistry Cancer OAT Toxin diazonamide structure white blood cell

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>