Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions

Combating Disease: First dual-action compound kills cancer cells, stops them from spreading

September 30, 2013

melanoma
Lab tests using this laser and a potential new drug have been tested successfully in the lab as possible new tools to attack melanoma skin cancer cells.
Credit: National Cancer Institute, John Crawford

Summary

Scientists are reporting development and successful lab tests on the first potential drug to pack a lethal one-two punch against melanoma skin cancer cells. Hit number one destroys cells in the main tumor, and the second hit blocks the spread of the cancer to other sites in the body, according to their report in the journal ACS Chemical Biology.

Today’s solution is the first potential drug to pack a lethal one-two punch against melanoma skin cancer cells. Hit number one destroys cells in the main tumor, and the second hit blocks the spread of the cancer to other sites in the body. The report appears in the journal ACS Chemical Biology.

The researchers explain that spread of melanoma and other forms of cancer beyond the original location — a process called metastasis — makes cancer such a serious disease.

Here is Nathan Luedtke, Ph.D., who is with the University of Zurich in Switzerland, and is the lead author of the paper.

“Photodynamic therapy, which involves administering a drug that kills cancer cells when exposed to light, is already available. But the therapy only works on the main tumor and has other important drawbacks.”

In light of this problem, Luedtke’s team set out to find an improved approach to photodynamic therapy.

“We had successful tests in laboratory mice of one compound that we synthesized that not only killed melanoma cells, but also stopped them from metastasizing by blocking a key signaling pathway. The compound provides the first example of a preclinical candidate possessing both of these properties.”

Smart Chemists/Innovative Thinking

Smart chemists. Innovative thinking. That’s the key to solving global challenges of the 21st Century. Please check out more of our full-length podcasts on wide-ranging issues facing chemistry and science, such as promoting public health, developing new fuels and confronting climate change, at www.acs.org/GlobalChallenges. Today’s podcast was written by Michael Bernstein. I’m Katie Cottingham at the American Chemical Society in Washington.

nathan, Ph.D.
Nathan Luedtke, Ph.D., University of Zurich