Scientists from international pharmaceutical companies Servier and Vernalis (R&D) have synthesized a new compound that could prevent the development and spread of more than a quarter of all types of cancers.
Known as S63845, lab studies have already demonstrated this compound’s effectiveness at inhibiting the growth of multiple types of cancer cells, which could help researchers to find the cure for leukemia, lymphoma, acute myeloid, and multiple melanomas.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world, with some of the most common being breast, lung, skin, endometrial, prostate, and leukemia cancer.
How does the compound work?
Many different types of cancer cells rely on a protein called myeloid cell leukemia (MCL1) to survive and grow, and without access to it, they would die.
S63845 helps to block MCL1, which inhibits both the growth and spread of multiple types of cancer cells and even causes them to die. Researchers say that it could even reduce the growth of solid tumors, which includes cancers of the skin, lung, and breast. This would help researchers to develop new and potentially more effective treatments for a variety of cancers.
Guillaume Lessene from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Australia, one of the researchers on the team, says: “MCL1 is important for many cancers because it is a pro-survival protein that allows the cancerous cells to evade the process of programmed cell death that normally removes cancer cells from the body. Extensive studies performed in a variety of cancer models have shown that S63845 potently targets cancer cells dependent on MCL1 for their survival.”
Why would S63845 be better than other treatments?
The body’s immune system struggles to destroy cancer cells because they evolve and spread too quickly for any defence systems to keep up. Cancer cells are also able to evade apoptosis, which is a form of programmed cell death.
While traditional radiation therapy and chemotherapy drugs can be effective in destroying cancer cells, these methods usually destroy healthy cells at the same time, which has been proven to have detrimental side effects.
This new compound not only cuts off cancer’s life support system but also avoids harming the healthy cells in the body, which will help to fight it off more efficiently.
When will it be available?
Research is still at a pre-clinical stage, which means that researchers still need to run further tests before the compound can be turned into a drug that can be administered to cancer patients.
The team says that this compound could be used to treat and prevent even more types of cancer. Andrew Wei, a haematologist from the Alfred Hospital in Australia and one of the researchers on the team, says: “The discovery finds new hope for patients. We consider this new compound to be a precision drug which can really strike cancer at its core and reduce the defences against cancer survival. It’s possible that with further research and discoveries that this compound will be amenable and effective against other forms of cancer.”