A ‘dirty bomb’ battles cancer metastasis

Northwestern Now: Summaries

The death of her mother from ovarian cancer when Dr. Sui Huang was only 12 led to her lifelong scientific pursuit and a new discovery that Huang hopes may eventually prevent other children from suffering such a painful loss.Huang, a Northwestern Medicine scientist, and colleagues have used a new approach and discovered a new compound that halts the spread of cancer cells, which is what makes the disease so lethal.Scientists from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the University of Kansas, the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCAT) and Dr. Chen Wang, a research associate in Huang’s lab, worked closely as a team to make this discovery possible.Huang had already discovered the complex marker that indicates cancer cells’ ability to transform into metastasizing “multiple-headed monsters,” as she describes them.In the new study, co-corresponding author Huang and colleagues have found a compound that blows up the monster and significantly reduced metastasis by human prostate, pancreatic and breast cancer transplanted into mice.Mice treated with the compound, named metarrestin, had fewer metastatic tumors in the lung and liver, and lived longer than mice that did not receive treatment.The paper was published May 16 in Science Translational Medicine.Metarrestin will be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for approval as an investigational drug in the near future, with the goal of launching a clinical trial.There currently is not a drug aimed at selectively preventing cancer metastasis.“It’s like a dirty bomb against cancer,” said Huang, an associate professor of cell and molecular biology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, describing metarrestin’s potency against metastasizing cells. “It could potentially result in a better outcome for patients with solid tumor cancers with high potential to spread to other organs. It’s promising.”Why is it important to develop a drug that doesn’t just target one …

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