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New compound could enhance cancer treatments

The discovery of a new compound by Michigan State University researchers could lead to improved chemotherapy treatments for different types of cancers potentially with fewer side effects.

The discovery of the compound known as SP-4-84 was made by an MSU team led by Jetze Tepe, an assistant professor of chemistry, and is detailed in the December issue of the journal Chemistry & Biology.

The researchers believe that the compound, when used in conjunction with chemotherapy drugs such as cisplatin and camptothecin, can make the anti-cancer drugs much more effective.

"This may potentially mean that one could use less than one-tenth of the current drug dosage and still get the same therapeutic results but fewer side effects or use the same drug dosage which is now much more effective in its treatment," Tepe said.

Even though this new compound is in the earliest stage of development, this is potentially good news for the millions of Americans diagnosed with cancer every year. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than a half-million Americans die of cancer every year, second only to heart disease.

Here is how the newly discovered compound works: Most anti-cancer drugs work by causing cell damage, such as DNA damage, which ultimately kills the cancer cells. However, cancer cells are also prone to repair themselves and survive the damage done by drugs, which renders the drugs less effective.

Tepe and his colleagues found that when SP-4-84 was added to certain anti-cancer drugs, it inhibited the cancer cell's ability to survive chemotherapeutic treatment.

"Essentially," he said, "it sensitizes only cancer cells to chemotherapeutics by blocking the cancer cell's ability to survive the damage that was caused by the chemotherapeutic drugs."

Another problem with chemotherapy drugs is that they generally don't discriminate between cancer cells and healthy cells. The drugs basically dam
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Contact: Tom Oswald
oswald@msu.edu
517-355-2281
Michigan State University
17-Dec-2004


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