New Hope Against Ovarian Cancer
Scientists at the University of Southern California have discovered a new type of drug for the treatment of ovarian cancer, according to a release from the university. The medication works in a way that "should not only decrease the number of doses that patients need to take, but also may make it effective for patients whose cancer has become drug-resistant." The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The release quotes lead author Shili Xu as saying, "We need a new generation of drugs. We need to overcome the drug-resistance issue." The drug is a member of a new class of cytotoxic agents abbreviated as PACMA that was discovered by testing roughly 10,000 chemical compounds on cancer cells in the lab of Nouri Neamati, professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at the USC School of Pharmacy, and a co-corresponding author of the paper.
The release notes that the drug, known as PACMA31, can be taken orally and accumulates in cancer cells, which means that it is less likely to cause harmful side effects in normal tissues. It is also what is known as an "irreversible" drug, meaning that it permanently latches on to its target. That irreversibility may result in prolonged duration of drug action that could translate into giving the patients lower doses of drugs.
"We are exploring combination studies in order to find synergy between our drug and first-line therapy for ovarian cancer," Neamati said. "When the patient has no other choice, we could potentially treat them with our drug."
The drug will still require additional testing, but so far it appears to be nontoxic and effective at halting tumor growth. It may also have potential for treating other types of cancer, Neamati noted.