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This Newly Developed Compound Could Slow Down Progression of Cancer

Nov 29, 2016 08:45 AM EST

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a new compound that is more capable in reducing or stopping the growth of cancer cells compared to other treatments available today.

The new compound, described in a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, is a receptor that is likened to high performing baseball gloves. Just like baseball gloves, the new compound catches a key cancer-causing molecule called Gas6 and takes it out of play, slowing the progression of pancreatic and ovarian cancer in mouse models.

"We basically came up with a better glove, with a much stronger ability to catch the baseball -- in this case, Gas6," said Amato Giaccia, PhD, professor of radiation oncology and lead author of the study, in a press release. "We were even able to get some animals cured, even those that started out with widespread and aggressive metastatic disease."

To create the new decoy compound, dubbed as MYD1-72, the researchers used yeast as a vessel to express different mutations of the Axl protein. Axl is the surface receptor that plays a crucial role in cell survival, growth and migration. In some forms of cancer, this receptor is over-expressed and binds strongly to Gas6, making it difficult for present treatments to target the cancer-causing molecule.

The MYD1-72 acts as a decoy receptor that can bind to Gas6 around 350 times better than the Axl. When given to mouse models, these decoy receptors attracts Gas6 and takes out of the system and blocking them from activating the Axl, preventing further growth and migration of cancer cells.

The researchers noted that the decoy receptor could be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy, both of which are better in reducing or stopping cancer growth in mouse models, compared to other present treatments. Additionally, the researchers claim that their new compound is much safer than the therapies available at present for pancreatic and ovarian cancer.

With their findings the researchers are hoping to push the new compound to clinical trials. However, before testing and efficacy in humans, the researchers first want to determine if the same beneficial effects could be harnessed in other types of cancer, such as leukemia.

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