The identification of a novel compound, CDDO-Im, shown to possess strong anti-tumor properties in studies conducted on animal models could soon revolutionize the treatment of liver cancer patients. The compound has been found to increase the intrinsic resistance to carcinogens (cancer causing substances) by enhancing the function of enzymes that remove toxins from the body. Further results about the compound have been published in the journal Cancer Research.
The compound has been found to be active (100 times effective than other anti-tumor compounds) at very small doses. It is hoped that the compound could play an important role in the prevention of cancers associated with inflammation such as lung cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer and gastric cancer. It can also help in the treatment of asthma, emphysema or other neurodegenerative disorders, linked to inflammation.
The synthetic compound, a derivative of oleanolic acid, belongs to a class of compounds commonly referred to as triterpenoids. Previous studies have established the anti-tumor properties of oleanolic derivatives in animals and humans.
In order to assess the effectiveness of cancer prevention, the researchers treated rats with aflatoxin, a carcinogen, known to cause liver cancer. The rates were treated with 0.1, 0.3, 1.0, 3.0 or 10 micromole doses of CDDO-Im. As much as 85% reduction in the incidence of pre-cancerous lesions could be observed when rats were treated with 0.1 mmol of the compound. This anti-cancer property could be due to associated activation of Nrf2 protein. This protein is believed to play a major role in the protection of body against environmental toxins.
The results of this study have several important clinical applications. First, it could lead to the development of new cancer prevention strategies. Second, it can attenuate the clinical features and provide relief to those suffering from inflammatory diseases. Third, it can protect humans from several diseases that can be attributed to a specific environmental agent.