Building on their earlier work, Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered that an apparently nontoxic cellular "energy blocker" can eradicate large liver tumors grown in rats. Six months to more than a year after treatment was stopped, the rats are still cancer free.
Female rat "R4" before treatment with 3-bromopyruvate (left) and 4 weeks after treatment with the compound. The tumor is gone from the animals right shoulder. [Credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine/Young Ko]
While the results are dramatic, clinical trials with the chemical, 3-bromopyruvate, are likely some years away, says the studys leader, Young Ko, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology and biological chemistry. If tests in the lab continue to be promising, however, the chemical or one like it may become an option for treating advanced liver cancers and perhaps other tumors in people.
"Liver cancer usually isn’t detected in people until it’s difficult or impossible to treat, and many other aggressive cancers spread to the liver, so we need more treatment options," says Peter Pedersen, Ph.D., professor of biological chemistry in the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at Johns Hopkins. "The compound Dr. Ko tested in animals targets a fundamental process cancer cells need to survive, can kill big tumors, and appears so far to have little or no effect on normal tissues."
Joanna Downer | EurekAlert!
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