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Nobel Laureate creates potent anticancer weapons

Nobel Laureate creates potent anticancer weapons Synthesizes new drugs more powerful than Taxol®

Two anticancer drugs, each estimated to be at least 100 times more powerful than the potent anticancer medication Taxol®, have been synthesized by a renowned Harvard University chemist. The findings are reported in the current (April 6) print edition of Organic Letters, published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Elias J. Corey, Ph.D., winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize for chemistry, has developed a new and better way to make ecteinascidin (pronounced ek-TIN-aside-in), a drug first produced in 1996 but little used until now because it is so difficult to make. The new method should speed and simplify mass production of the antitumor substance, potentially making the drug more available to patients suffering from soft-tissue sarcomas like cancers of the muscles, tendons and blood vessels. Ecteinascidin is likely the most complicated molecule ever to be made on a commercial scale, according to Corey.

He referred to the compound as "approximately two orders of magnitude stronger (than Taxol®) in inhibiting tumor cell growth. This is another example of how synthetic chemistry contributes to medicine." (Paclitaxel, known commercially as Taxol®, is used to treat ovarian and breast cancers, and has shown promising results in studies using it to treat Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and polycystic kidney disease, among others.)

Ecteinascidin and a simpler, easier to make form called phthalascidin (pronounced THAL-aside-in), act differently than Taxol® and every other cancer cell treatment. They have a unique molecular interaction with DNA and with a currently unknown protein associated with the DNA, Corey said. Laboratory studies, combined with research conducted on ecteinascidin through the National Institutes of Health, have found the drug prevents tumor cell d
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Contact: Beverly Hassell
b_hassell@acs.org
202-872-4065
American Chemical Society
5-Apr-2000


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