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Pharmaceutical 'smart bomb' targets cancer cells

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. Rutgers pharmaceutical chemist Longqin Hu and his colleagues have developed a new series of compounds for drugs that have the potential to attack cancer like a high-tech "smart bomb." This high-powered combination of a novel cell-killing agent and a precision targeting technology proved to be as much as 100 times more potent than a comparable drug currently in clinical trials.

"We are testing this combination and it looks like a winner," said Hu, an assistant professor at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

The delivery of the compound is accomplished with a prodrug an inert chemical derivative of a drug that can be activated once it reaches its destination inside a patient's body. Prodrugs can transport highly potent medicines such as Hu's cytotoxins (cell-killers), without impacting other body tissues along the way. Hu's research employs a new and improved prodrug package developed by collaborators in England.

This dramatic step in the march toward a cancer cure will be featured twice during the 226th American Chemical Society (ACS) national meeting in New York. Hu is presenting a paper on Monday, Sept. 8 at 3:45 p.m. in the Javits Convention Center, room 1E02. In addition, Hu and his colleagues are exhibiting at a poster session on Wednesday, Sept. 10 in the Hilton New York, Americas Hall 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Traditional anticancer drugs use accelerated cell growth as their trigger, which can produce collateral damage in rapidly replicating normal cells. "That is how you wind up with the negative side effects you see in chemotherapy patients, such as hair loss, nausea and reduced immunities," said Hu.

Instead of hitting all cells that grow fast, the newly reformulated prodrugs use a protein or enzyme as the activating trigger, guaranteeing a direct hit on cancerous cells. Nitroreductase an enzyme not normally found in the body, not
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Contact: Joseph Blumberg
blumberg@ur.rutgers.edu
732-932-7084 Ext. 652
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
31-Dec-2000


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