Cancer

05 November 2009

Kill cancer cells, not healthy ones

The ultimate goal in cancer research, a treatment that kills cancer cells whilst leaving healthy cells untouched, is brought nearer by the success of a new therapeutic approach.

0

The ultimate goal in cancer research, a treatment that kills cancer cells whilst leaving healthy cells untouched, is brought nearer by the success of a new therapeutic approach. The potential therapy, published in BioMed Central's open access journal Breast Cancer Research, targets proliferation of cancer, but not normal, cells.

An international research team led by Professor Cohen-Armon of Tel-Aviv University found that potent phenanthridine derived polyADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitors that were originally designed to protect cells from cell-death under stress conditions (e.g. stroke or inflammation), efficiently eradicate MCF-7 and MDA231 breast cancer cells without impairing normal proliferating cells, such as human epithelial cells (MCF-10A), nor normal non-proliferating cells, such as neurons and cardiomyocytes.

Human cancers depending on a constitutive activity of externally regulated kinase (ERK) were examined. The rationale for testing PARP inhibitors in these cancers was the recently disclosed up-regulation of ERK signals in the nucleus by activated PARP-1. However, other mechanisms are apparently involved.

The phenanthridine PJ-34 caused a permanent G2/M cell-cycle arrest and cell death within 48-72 hours in breast cancer MCF-7 and MDA231 cells. In contrast, normal proliferating cells overcame the imposed G2/M cell-cycle arrest within 12 hours, survived and continued to proliferate.

In vivo, PJ-34 prevented the development of MCF-7 and MDA231 xenotransplants in nude mice without affecting their growth, development or behaviour.

Other PARP inhibitors were recently proved efficient only for treating relatively rare hereditary human cancers developed in individuals with an impaired DNA repair (BRCA gene mutation). However, in the current research, breast cancer cells lacking the BRCA mutation were efficiently eradicated.

According to Professor Cohen-Armon, "This research provides a new therapeutic approach for a selective eradication of abundant human cancers." – (EurekAlert, November 2009)

Read more:
New treatment for early lung cancer

 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Cancer expert

CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst. For more information, visit cansa.org.za.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules