New Drug Found Effective Against Different Cancer Types
Researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research in London have discoverd a new drug which may represent a breakthrough cancer treatment. AT13148, the new drug, is a multi-targeted kinase inhibitor that has proved efficacy in blocking different types of cancers. The study, recently published in Clinical Cancer Research, shows that AT13148 can block several types of cancers such as breast cancer (HER2-positive, PIK3CA-mutated breast BT474), prostate (PTEN-deficient PC3 human prostate cancer) and cancer ( PTEN-deficient tumor xenografts MES-SA uterine). Dr. Michelle Garrett, lead author and team leader in the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit at The Institute of Cancer Research, said that due to the promising results of the study, the drug will make the next step – the clinical trial.
Currently, there are several types of chemotherapy drugs that target cancer cells: alkylating agents, antimetabolites, immunosuppressants, immunomodulators, etc.. Alkylating agents alter the nucleic acids. This type of chemotherapy containing highly reactive alkyl groups binds nitrogen, phosphate groups or proteins from the nucleic acids. Important to note is that alkylating agents act only on preformed DNA and affects only the cells during division. There are also anticancer drugs that act on preformed DNA such as cisplatin, procarbazine, anthracyclines etc.. On the other hand, antimetabolites (azathioprine, cytarabin, etc.) inhibit the synthesis of nucleic acids. In this category, methotrexate is included which, by inhibiting folic acid, blocks DNA synthesis. Anthracyclines (doxorubicin, mitomycin) are antitumor antibiotics that act in all phases of cell cycle by binding to certain enzymes.
Chemotherapy drugs are drugs designed to selectively destroy tumor cells. Usually, in addition to anti-tumor effect, there is also an immunosuppressive effect which is responsible for the negative effects of chemotherapy. Selectivity of action is because tumor cells multiply faster than normal cells. There are some healthy cells that are multiplying faster (hair follicles, digestive system, hematopoietic cells, etc.), which explains the gastrointestinal adverse effects (nausea, vomiting), hematological (thrombocytopenia, leukopenia), hair loss, etc.. In addition, the effect of chemotherapy depend on the degree of synchronization of multiplication. If tumor cells multiply more chaotic and more asynchronous, the chemotherapeutic effect is low. Regarding chemotherapy resistance to the drugs, that occurs due to genetic mutations that cause tumor cell not to be influenced by the drug. There are several mechanisms by which resistance occurs: some cancer cells increase their capacity to repair lesions induced by the drug, others do not allow penetration of drug into the cell, etc.. All in all, finding a drug to act in several ways simultaneously represents a clearly step forward in cancer treatment.