SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Scientists have found a drug that stops cancer’s spread in mice.
It’s called P-3Fax-Neu5Ac, and while it is a long way from commercial use, “it’s promising,” said Cory Rillahan, a chemical biologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
Cancer cells multiply and avoid detection by the body’s immune system by altering the sugars on their surfaces. P-3Fax-Neu5Ac prevents those sugar alterations.
A research team led by James Paulson at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego found the drug caused fatal kidney damage in mice when injected in the bloodstream, so the drug must target cancer cells. Dutch researchers at the Radboud University Medical Center packaged the drug in nanoparticles targeted to cancer cells. This combination actually stopped the cancer cells from metastasizing. The results were published in ACS Nano.
Most drugs that work in mice don’t work on people, and nanotech therapy has not been tried on humans, nor has it passed federal safety tests. But Paulson says research on P-3Fax-Neu5Ac “opens the door” to the prospect of a drug that can combat metastatic cancer in humans.
P-3Fax-Neu5Ac is by no means a cure, but understanding how the drug works is teaching researchers how to the prevent the spread of cancer and thereby reduce fatalities from the disease. Scientists say the nanoparticle targeting strategy could also work on infections and inflammation.