WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 A non-toxic chemical compound that prevents cancer cells from producing a critical membrane component has been shown to suppress tumor growth and tumor size in mice without unwanted side effects, according to researchers at the Childrens National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The finding could lead to the development of safe and effective human cancer treatments that do not have the harsh side effects associated with chemotherapy and other traditional cancer-fighting strategies.
The compound, a carbohydrate known as OGT2378, blocks the production of an enzyme that cancer cells need to make gangliosides, molecules found in the membranes of most cells. When secreted by cancer cells, gangliosides suppress the immune system, alter the microenvironment surrounding these cells and promote the growth of new blood vessels necessary for tumor growth and survival.
"Cancer cells produce gangliosides at a much more rapid rate than normal cells. By interfering with this process we can stop a tumor from growing in a rather dramatic fashion without damaging the normal tissue surrounding it," says Stephan Ladisch, M.D., director of the Center for Cancer and Immunology Research at the Childrens Research Institute. His findings were presented today at the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the worlds largest scientific society.
Tumors in mice treated with OGT2378 were one-tenth the size of those in untreated mice. The results suggest that a drug or other treatment can modify tumors in such a way that the bodys own defenses are able to attack the cancerous cells and eliminate growth, apparently without harmful side effects, Ladisch says.
"Chemotherapy and radiation are limited by the fact that the body can only withstand so much toxic exposure," Ladisch says. "As far as we know thats not the case with these inhibitors of ganglioside production."
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