Employing a simple new technique to manipulate the sugars that power many front-line drugs, a team of Wisconsin scientists has enhanced the antic-cancer properties of a digitalis, a drug commonly used to treat heart disease.
Reporting the work in the Aug. 8 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of pharmaceutical sciences Jon S. Thorson, describes a series of experiments that boosted the cell-killing potency and tumor specificity of the drug, derived from the foxglove plant and used to stimulate the heart. The drug is suspected to have anti-cancer properties, but its use to treat cancer has been little explored.
The new work is important because it provides scientists and drug companies with a quick and easy way to manipulate the sugars found in chemicals produced in nature. Such chemicals -- often found in microbes, plants and marine organisms -- are the bedrock agents upon which many leading drugs are built. The ways sugar groups are organized on a molecule often dictate the agents biological effects.
Jon S. Thorson | EurekAlert!
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