"Our new understanding of how this agent works could help us combine treatments to reach multiple targets," said William Gmeiner, Ph.D., professor of cancer biology at Wake Forest's School of Medicine, which is part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
Gmeiner is working under a grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to investigate the agent's potential for treating human cancer. His most recent findings reveal how the compound called FdUMP works to damage DNA, the genetic "code" found in all cells.
The results were reported in Anaheim, Calif., today at the American Association for Cancer Research's 96th Annual Meeting and will be published June 1 in Cancer Research.
Eleven years ago, Gmeiner set out to develop a compound that would be more effective and have fewer side effects than fluorouracil, one of the most common chemotherapy drugs for prostate cancer. Laboratory studies show that FdUMP is 300 to 400 times more effective than fluorouracil at killing cancer cells and less damaging to normal cells. In addition to potential for treating prostate cancer, the compound has also proven effective for leukemia and colon cancer cells.
"Now, we have more information about how it's actually killing cancer cells," said Gmeiner. "We knew that it damaged DNA but did not know the mechanism. Our latest research helped us learn what target we're hitting."
Gmeiner designed the agent to inhibit an enzyme (thymidylate synthase) that plays a major role in the rapid growth and division of cancer cells. But his recent research shows that the agent also acts on another enzyme (topoisomerase) that helps cancer cells replica
Contact: Karen Richardson
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center