Technique kills cancerous cells, leaves healthy cells intact
Chemists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have produced a molecule that selectively kills cancerous cells in a desired way and leaves healthy cells virtually untouched.
While encouraging, the findings dont mean a new treatment is imminent. The basic laboratory experiments were done in microtiter dishes, where the compound was simply exposed to leukemia and lymphoma cells and healthy white blood cells from mice.
"Its hard to say where this discovery may fit into the big picture, but the pathway weve found is real; it is very provocative," said Paul J. Hergenrother, a professor of chemistry, who directed the study funded by the National Science Foundation.
The study appears in the Dec. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The compound, which is referred to as 13-D in the study, already is being tested by the National Cancer Institute. The University of Illinois has applied for a patent on it.
"The next big step would be to show that this compound works in an animal model," Hergenrother said. "We are very interested in the selectivity of this compound. We now are trying to track down exactly what protein target this compound is binding to in the cancer cells. If we can isolate the protein receptor, we may find a totally new anti-cancer target."
Hergenrother and his doctoral students Vitaliy Nesterenko and Karson S. Putt manufactured a library of 88 artificial compounds based on the structures of certain natural products. Three of the compounds showed a significant ability to kill cancer cells. Those three were further screened to determine if they were killing the cancer cells through apoptosis or necrosis.
Apoptosis is desired because cells die in a programmed fashion and are simply engulfed by other cells. Necrosis is essentially an accidental breakdown that results in the spilling of cellular material that triggers an undesirable anti-inflammatory response.
Compound 13-D was found to have the strongest cancer-killing effect and the only one to induce a cysteine protease known as caspase-3 as well as blebbing (a pinching off of the cellular membrane) and cell shrinkage, all of which are hallmarks of apoptosis.
"Once we had a compound that killed by apoptosis, we did the key experiment to see if the compound induced cell death selectively, choosing cancerous cells over non-cancerous white blood cells," Hergenrother said. "Compound 13-D showed virtually no toxicity toward the actively dividing T-cells while almost completely killing the lymphoma and leukemia cells."
Such results are desirable, because many current human therapeutic approaches result in undesired side effects such as anemia and major gastrointestinal problems.
Additionally, Hergenrother said, if the biological pathways can be isolated it may be possible to manufacture compounds that not only encourage apoptosis in cancer cells but also inhibit it in healthy cells, a potential benefit to sufferers of Alzheimers and Parkinsons diseases in which many cells die off unnecessarily.
Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...