For the first time, Yale University scientists have synthesized a chemical compound, leading to the development of a new class of molecules that may target and destroy cancer stem cells.
A team at Yale, led by chemist Seth Herzon, managed to create the chemical called lomaiviticin aglycon, opening up new avenues of exploration into novel chemotherapies that could target cancer stem cells, thought to be the precursors to tumors in a number of different cancers including ovarian, brain, lung, prostate and leukemia.
Gil Mor of the Yale School of Medicine said that in addition to lomaiviticin aglycon, Herzon's team also created smaller, similar molecules that have proven extremely effective in killing ovarian stem cells.
The scientists are particularly excited about lomaiviticin aglycon's potential to kill ovarian cancer stem cells because the disease is notoriously resistant to Taxol and Carboplatin, two of the most common chemotherapy drugs.
"Ovarian cancer has a high rate of recurrence, and after using chemotherapy to fight the tumor the first time, you're left with resistant tumor cells that tend to keep coming back. If you can kill the stem cells before they have the chance to form a tumor, the patient will have a much better chance of survival - and there aren't many potential therapies out there that target cancer stem cells right now," explained Mor.
The findings appeared in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.