Scientists at the University of Alberta have discovered a new class of drugs that they say could be the next big step in treating cancer.
The newly discovered drug works by preventing resistant cancer cells from repairing their own DNA which is damaged through traditional treatments like radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
“For patients with resistant cancer, this drug could rescue them by rendering their cancer once again treatable,” Fred West, chemistry professor and co-director of the Cancer Research Institute of Northern Alberta said.
The new compound used in the drug inhibits the interaction of a protein pair called ERCC1-XPF that is responsible for repairing DNA in cancer cells.
“For patients who have not developed resistance, it could permit the use of lower, safer doses of chemotherapy, which would greatly reduce the serious side effects,” West said.
Currently the research team is focusing on colorectal and lung cancer, but hope to eventually expand the drug to other cancers.
The drugs still needs to be tested on “model organisms” before it is tested in human clinical trials. So far, they’ve been tested on cells alone. A model organism is a non-human species that laboratories use to help understand biological processes.
The research team has already fled a provisional patent application and is working towards pre-clinical studies as soon as next year.
The project was funded in part by a $2.9-million grant from the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
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