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Researchers develop prodrug that kills cancer cells

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Pohang | January 28, 2022 6:50:08 PM IST
A team of researchers have developed a prodrug that kills cancer cells like assassins.

The study has been published in 'Advanced Science Journal'.

A research team led by Professor Won Jong Kim of POSTECH's Department of Chemistry has developed a lymph-directed self-immolative nitric oxide prodrug that is readily conjugated to the protein albumin to remove cancer cells in lymph nodes. Prodrugs are drugs that need to be metabolized in the body to be therapeutic.

Since nitric oxide (NO) can trigger various biological reactions in the body, studies have been conducted to use it for anti-cancer therapy. However, conventional NO drugs are difficult to apply as treatment since they spontaneously release NO gas due to their innate structural instability.

The drug developed by Professor Kim's team is unique in that it selectively reacts with strong reductants (i.e., glutathione) inside the body to release nitric oxide. In this study, using the property of albumin that enables rapid drainage into the lymph nodes, the prodrug is able to eliminate cancer cells located in the tumour-draining lymph nodes.

In a metastasis mouse model, the mice treated with the drug had about 30 times less weight of metastatic cancer cells in the lymph node than those not treated. Also, 85 per cent of the mice treated with the drug survived, whereas only 14 per cent of the untreated survived.

Unlike conventional NO prodrugs, the newly developed prodrug does not spontaneously decompose when it comes in contact with water, rendering it easy to store or transport. Side effects are also significantly lower compared to performing lymph node removal surgeries. The drug also shows high potential to be commercialized since 3-morpholinosydnonimine hydrochloride (SIN-1) - a component of the drug - has already been used clinically and albumin is also a protein present in the body.

"The self-immolative nitric oxide prodrug can minimize the side effects of nitric oxide and maximize its therapeutic effects," explained Professor Won Jong Kim who led the study.

He noted, "It will be applicable in the prevention and treatment of cancer, autoimmune diseases, intractable neurological diseases, and infectious diseases in the future." (ANI)

 
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