A Natural Substance Could Provide Novel Cancer Treatment

CANCER can be treated by a natural substance found in many organisms, which can also be recycled and reused repeatedly, according to researchers from the University of Warwick, Coventry, UK. In a study, an organic-osmium compound called JPC11, which is found in organisms such as stinging nettles and ants, once triggered by a non-toxic dose of sodium formate, was able to kill cancer cells effectively and selectively.

Unique Cancer Treatment
The team found that by converting pyruvate, a substance utilised by cancer cells to provide the energy they need to survive and multiply, into an unnatural lactate, JPC11 is able to destroy cancer cells. A unique aspect of this form of treatment is that it can be recycled and reused within a cancer cell to attack it repeatedly.

Overcoming Resistance
With resistance to existing chemotherapy drugs becoming a growing problem for the treatment of many cancers, such as ovarian, the novel nature of this treatment could provide a way of overcoming such resistance and widen the spectrum of anticancer treatments. Additionally, the fact that JPC11 is able to specifically target the biochemistry of cancer cells and leave healthy cells alone, provides the opportunity for more selective cancer treatment. This would be an improvement on existing nonspecific platinum-based drugs, which can also attack non-cancerous cells as well as cancerous cells.

Dr James Coverdale, University of Warwick, commented: “This is a significant step in the fight against cancer. Manipulating and applying well-established chemistry in a biological context provides a highly selective strategy for killing cancer cells. We have discovered that chemo-analyst JPC11 has a unique mechanism of action, and we hope that this will lead to more effective, selective, and safer treatments in the future.”

Future Therapies
The advent of unique treatments such as this one that are able destroy cancer cells in completely new ways is vital for circumventing resistance. The researchers will now be working to progress this type of treatment from the lab to the clinic, which could have major implications for cancer patients.

James Coker, Reporter

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