A chemical compound that will turn ineffective new cancer drugs into cancer-fighters has been identified by scientists at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre.
Patented chemical compound called SHetA2, say researchers, will work with several cancers, including lung, kidney, ovarian, colon, and pancreatic cancer.
"This discovery means that we can use our non-toxic cancer prevention pill to improve treatment for people who already have cancer," said Doris Mangiaracina Benbrook, Ph.D., principal investigator on the project.
"All studies to date, have not found any side effects of taking our drug, giving hope that we can prevent cancer in healthy people and improve treatment for cancer patients, without increasing toxicity," Benbrook added.
During the study, researchers analyzed an upcoming class of cancer treatment drugs that worked well in experimental models, but proved ineffective against many human tumors.
They decided to test their compound's ability to "fix" the problem and it worked.
"The new chemotherapy drugs are antibodies that bind to cell surface receptors called 'Death Receptors.' The binding of the antibodies activates the death receptors in cancer cells and causes cell suicide with little harm to normal cells. Many cancers, however, are resistant to the antibodies," Benbrook said.
"We've shown that SHetA2 treatment can make ovarian and kidney cancer cells sensitive to the death receptor antibodies and kill the cancer," she added.
According to the researchers, the synthetic compound directly targets abnormalities in cancer cell components without damaging normal cells. The disruption causes cancer cells to die and keeps tumors from forming.
"It would be a significant advancement in health care if we could avoid the severe toxicity and suffering that late stage cancer patients have to experience," said Benbrook.
The research appears in the journal Gynecologic Oncology.