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August 11, 2005

Scientists Develop Powerful 'Stealth' Anti-Cancer Drugs With Ability To 'Sneak Into Tumors'

Topics: Medicine

What makes this so interesting is that the drugs can target cancerous areas without causing damage to the surrounding healthy cells!

Stealth cell.jpg
[Drugs attack only cancer cells, not healthy cells(image-Sky News)]

Powerful "stealth" anti-cancer drugs able to "sneak" into tumours and destroy them have been developed by scientists of the Cancer Research UK Centre for Cancer Therapeutics at the Institute of Cancer Research in the UK.

The drugs can target cancerous areas without causing damage to the surrounding healthy cells, and could lead to improved treatment and survival for cancer patients in the future. The therapy involves deploying a "scout" enzyme (bacterial enzyme carboxypeptidase G2) to a tumour to mark it for destruction. The enzyme infiltrates only cancerous cells and lays dormant until non-toxic drugs - called prodrugs - are also sent in. The "Prodrugs" are only activated when they react with the "scout" enzyme in the cancerous cell - turning them into a potent cancer-killing drug.

In their study, the scientists utilized a delivery method called gene-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (GDEPT). In standard cancer treatment, like chemotherapy, drugs attack anywhere in the body, meaning healthy cells as well as cancerous ones are damaged. But by using GDEPT, normal cells should not be affected and this could mean fewer side effects.

The study, published today in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, showed that the drugs substantially delayed tumour growth in experiments on human breast cancer cells and in animal tests.

Crystal structure of carboxypeptidase G2, a bacterial enzyme with applications in cancer therapy.

Modifying an immunogenic epitope on a therapeutic protein: a step towards an improved system for antibody-directed enzyme prodrug therapy (ADEPT).

Posted by Richard at August 11, 2005 2:54 PM

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