Cancer Breakthrough: Groundbreaking Pill Found to Kill Tumors

A team of scientists from a leading hospital in the US made a cancer-destroying pill. This pill is able to kill tumors via targeted chemotherapy.

The protein was made by the research team at the City of Hope which is one of the biggest cancer research and treatment organizations in the US.

The researchers describe this potent protein as a “snowstorm that closes a key airline hub, shutting down all flights in and out only in planes carrying cancer cells”. 

Cancer Breakthrough: Groundbreaking Pill Able to Kill Tumors

The AOH1996 molecule works by targeting a cancer variant of PCNA. This protein is vital for the replication of DNA and for the repair of growing tumors.

This molecule was being developed in the last two decades. Preclinical studies have found it to be effective against prostate, breast, ovarian, brain, skin, cervical, and lung cancers. 

The study was published in the Cell Chemical Biology journal. During the study, the protein was tested on more than 70 cancer cell lines. They concluded that the molecule AOH1996 destroyed cancer cells by messing up their normal cell reproductive cycle. 

To learn more, the team of scientists is now focusing on a clinical trial in humans. 

How Does the Cancer-Killing Pill Work?

According to Linda Malkas, Ph.D., professor at the Department of Molecular Diagnostics and Experimental Therapeutics in City of Hope and the M.T. and B.A. Ahmadinia Professor in Molecular Oncology, PCNA is like a big airline terminal hub with several plane gates.

Their data notes that PCNA is uniquely changed in cancerous cells and this was what allowed them to make a drug that targets only the PCNA form in cancerous cells. Malkas compares the pill with a snowstorm that closes an airline hub and stops all flights in and out only in those planes with cancerous cells. 

The results are promising. The molecule is able to suppress the growth of tumors as a monotherapy or a combination therapy in cell and animal models, without any toxicity. 

Currently, this chemotherapeutic is in Phase 1 clinical trial in humans at City of Hope. 

Long Gu, Ph.D., head author of the study and an associate research professor in the Department of Molecular Diagnostics and Experimental Therapeutics at Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope notes that no one before has targeted PCNA as therapeutic due to being deemed “undruggable”. 

However, it’s evident that the City of Hope developed an investigational medicine for a complex protein target. 

Gu also emphasized that they found that PCNA is one of the possible reasons for increased nucleic acid replication mistakes in cancerous cells. Since they now know the problem and can address it, they will keep researching to create more personalized and targeted tumor medicines.