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New compound protects against liver cancer

Scientists have identified a new compound called CDDO-Im that protects against the development of liver cancer in laboratory animals. Experiments, led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, show CDDO-Im to be effective at doses 100 times lower than other compounds known to prevent cancer in people. Because of its makeup, the researchers believe CDDO-Im could be particularly effective in preventing cancers with a strong link to inflammation, such as liver, colon, prostate and gastric cancers. It could also play a role in preventing diseases such as neurodegeneration, asthma and emphysema. The findings are featured in the February 15, 2006, issue of the journal Cancer Research.

CDDO-Im is a synthetic compound that belongs to a class of cancer-fighting compounds called triterpenoids under development by Dr. Michael Sporn and other study co-authors at Dartmouth Medical School. It is derived from oleanolic acid, a naturally occurring substance found in many plants. Other oleanolic derivatives are known to reduce tumor growth in animals and humans.

Researchers believe CDDO-Im works by activating Nrf2, a master switch known to direct certain enzymes to stimulate the cell's defense mechanisms and remove harmful chemicals from cells. "Activation of the Nrf2 pathway with CDDO-Im could provide protection against a number of diseases triggered by environmental agents," said Thomas Kensler, PhD, a professor with the Bloomberg School's Department of Environmental Health Sciences and lead author of the study.

In their research, Kensler and his colleagues treated laboratory rats with varying doses of CDDO-Im. Two days after treatment with CDDO-Im, the rats were given aflatoxin, a naturally occurring cancer-causing toxin. CDDO-Im treatment led to an 85 percent reduction in pre-cancerous lesions at the lowest dose of 50 micrograms per rat and a 99 percent reduction at the highest dose of 5 milligrams.

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Contact: Tim Parsons
paffairs@jhsph.edu
410-955-6878
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
15-Feb-2006


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