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Cancer Cure Still Possible, New Compound Could Treat a Quarter of All Known Cancers

Oct 24, 2016 08:24 AM EDT
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International pharmaceutical companies Servier and Vernalis (R&D) have discovered a new compound that could efficiently kill cancerous cells, while being tolerable to normal cells.

The new compound, described in a paper published in the journal Nature, shows promise in treating about a quarter of all known cancer, including blood cancers such as acute myeloid leukaemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma, and solid cancers such as melanoma and cancers of the lung and breast.

Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Servier revealed that the compound, dubbed as S63845, targets and block a specific type of protein that is essential for cancer growth. This protein, MCL1, belongs to the BCL2 family and is responsible for the sustained survival of cancer cells.

"MCL1 is important for many cancers because it is a pro-survival protein that allows the cancerous cells to evade the process of programmed cell death that normally removes cancer cells from the body," explained Guillaume Lessene, a scientist and associate professor at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and lead author of the paper, in a statement. "Extensive studies performed in a variety of cancer models have shown that S63845 potently targets cancer cells dependent on MCL1 for their survival."

The researchers discovered that the ability of the S63845 t target and inhibit MCL1 protein was effective in targeting several type of cancer. Furthermore, the researchers were able to demonstrate that despite being effective to most cancer cells, the new compound can also be delivered in doses that were well tolerable by normal cells.

"S63845 was discovered through collaboration with the fragment and structure based discovery expertise at Vernalis," Dr Olivier Geneste, Director of Oncology Research at Servie, in a press release. "As part of the ongoing Servier / Novartis collaboration on this target class, clinical development of a MCL1 inhibitor should be launched in the near future."

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