Scientists at UC Santa Barbara, in cooperation with scientists in the pharmaceutical industry, have discovered the mechanism by which this drug kills cancer cells. The team has isolated the drug's action in the test tube as well as in cancer cells.
The results are reported in two studies published as the cover story of the October issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, authored by a team of UCSB researchers. The articles feature work performed in the laboratories of Mary Ann Jordan and Leslie Wilson, professors in UCSB's Department of Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology.
"This anticancer drug, called maytansine, when linked to a tumor-targeting antibody, shows promising early results in clinical trials on patients with metastatic breast cancer," said Jordan. "Although the drug is not yet approved by the FDA, current clinical trials are open to new patients. And, the drug is being tested, with good results, on other cancers, such as multiple myeloma and B-cell lymphoma."
Early clinical trials show that the drug shrank the tumors of one-third of the patients in the breast cancer study –– a strong result, according to the authors. The studies explain that the drug works by targeting the microtubules of cancer cells. Microtubules are the dynamic, rapidly growing and shortening protein filaments that help cells to divide and multiply."We discovered how the drug is taken up into the tumor cells," said Jordan. "We found out that it is metabolized by the cancer cells, inhibits the dynamics of cellular microtubules, and thus blocks the mitosis of the spindles in the cells, causing them to die."
The drug was previously considered too dangerous to use, because of its toxicity to non-cancer cells. However, the team was able to show that modifying the anticancer drug by adding an antibody caused the drug to target only cancer cells, greatly reducing its toxicity.
The new drug, when linked with the breast cancer-targeting antibody, is named trastuzumab-DM1. DM1 is a synthetic derivative of maytansine, a molecule found in an evergreen tree in the genera Maytenus, which grows on several continents.
For more information on clinical trials, co-author Ravi Chari, of the pharmaceutical company Immunogen Inc., in Cambridge, Mass., suggests that interested cancer patients consult the Immunogen, Inc. Web site: http://www.immunogen.com/wt/home/home.
"Sometimes people say that there is no progress in the fight against cancer," said Jordan. "But there is progress on many fronts. There are many smaller advances on specific cancers. Les Wilson and I have been collaborating for 32 years, and it is very exciting and satisfying to both of us that many cancer drugs that we've worked on that inhibit microtubule dynamics are becoming successful in the clinic and are helping people to live."
Lopus completed his Ph.D. in biotechnology at the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay. The other first author, Emin Oroudjev, was a project scientist with the same research team at the time of the study. He received his Ph.D. from the Russian Academy of Science and now works in Santa Barbara at Bio SB.
Gail Gallessich | EurekAlert!
A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich
New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
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”...
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...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
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...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine
20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine