Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Discovery leads to new hope against ovarian cancer

New drug may be an effective alternative for patients whose cancer is resistant to currently available drugs

Scientists at USC have discovered a new type of drug for the treatment of ovarian cancer that works in a way that should not only decrease the number of doses that patients need to take, but also may make it effective for patients whose cancer has become drug-resistant.

The drug, which so far has been tested in the lab on ovarian cancer cells and on mice tumors, was unveiled last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"We need a new generation of drugs," said Shili Xu, a USC graduate student and lead author of the PNAS paper. "We need to overcome the drug-resistance issue."

The drug is a member of a new class of cytotoxic agents abbreviated as PACMA that was discovered by testing roughly 10,000 chemical compounds on cancer cells in the lab of Nouri Neamati, professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at the USC School of Pharmacy, and a co-corresponding author of the paper.

These initial findings led to a collaboration with Nicos Petasis, co-corresponding author of the paper and professor of chemistry at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, with appointments at the School of Pharmacy and the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of the Keck School of Medicine of USC. This joint effort led to a study of PACMA compounds that was reported last year in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

In order to investigate and optimize the anticancer properties of PACMAs, co-author Alexey Butkevich, a graduate student in the Petasis lab, synthesized more than 80 newly designed compounds. One of these, called PACMA31, was eventually found to be very toxic to ovarian cancer cells and was shown to be a potentially effective drug.

In the PNAS paper, Xu and his co-authors reported that PACMA31 is a potent and selective inhibitor of a protein called Protein Disulfide Isomerase (PDI) that is highly expressed in ovarian cancer.

PACMA31 can be taken orally and accumulates in cancer cells, which means that it is less likely to cause harmful side effects in normal tissues. It is also what is known as an "irreversible" drug, meaning that it permanently latches on to its target, PDI, and refuses to wear off until the protein is degraded.

That irreversibility may result in prolonged duration of drug action that could translate into giving the patients lower doses of drugs.

"We are exploring combination studies in order to find synergy between our drug and first-line therapy for ovarian cancer," Neamati said.

Currently, there are two major types of drugs in the first-line treatment of ovarian cancer: paclitaxel, which hinders cancer cell division by inhibiting the disassembly of microtubules; and carboplatin, which binds to and causes crosslinking of DNA that results in the death of cancer cells.

PACMA31 attacks cancer cells in yet a different way, targeting PDI and thus interrupting the folding process during which proteins assume the shapes that allow them to function properly. Accumulation of misfolded proteins in a cell causes cellular stress and eventually cancer cell death.

Because PACMA31's strategy is different than that of current anticancer drugs, it has the potential to help patients who do not respond to paclitaxel or cisplatin.

"When the patient has no other choice, we could potentially treat them with our drug," Neamati said.

Other co-authors of the PNAS paper included Roppei Yamada, Yu Zhou, Bikash Debnath and Professors Roger Duncan and Ebrahim Zandi. Additional contributors to the PACMA project and co-authors to the team's first paper included Xuefei Cao, Melissa Millard, Srinivas Odde, Nick Mordwinkin, Rambabu Gundla and Professor Stan Louie.

"The discovery of this new drug and its novel mechanism of action is a great example of the power of interdisciplinary collaborations between chemists, biologists, pharmacologists and other biomedical researchers," Petasis said.

The drug will still require additional testing, but so far it appears to be nontoxic and effective at halting tumor growth. It may also have potential for treating other types of cancer, Neamati noted.

"Obviously, we think that it will go beyond ovarian cancer," he said.

Funding for the research came from the USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund, the American Chemical Society, the William Cockrell Endowed Cancer Research Fund and the U.S. Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer program.

Robert Perkins | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Cancer Discovery PACMA PDI PNAS Petasis Pharmacy Science TV USC cancer cells cancer drug ovarian cancer

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

TIB’s Visual Analytics Research Group to develop methods for person detection and visualisation

19.03.2018 | Information Technology

Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

19.03.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>