Destroying cancer cells is easy. Destroying cancer cells without serious side effects is the difficult part.
But new research from OMRF has identified a way of more effectively eradicating cancer cells using low doses of an anti-cancer drug. In a study that will appear in the February 9 edition of the journal Cancer Research, OMRF’s Gary Gorbsky, Ph.D., has found that a newly identified compound enhances the killing power of the Taxol, a drug used in chemotherapy treatments.
“This chemical or ones derived from it, used in concert with the anti-cancer drug Taxol, could make destroying cancer cells easier and safer by reducing the amount of Taxol needed,” said Gorbsky, who holds the W.H. and Betty Phelps Chair in Developmental Biology at OMRF.
Physicians currently use Taxol in chemotherapy to treat a variety of cancers, including lung, ovarian and breast cancer. However, Taxol treatment often causes significant side effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, low platelet counts, decreased white and red blood cells, anemia and increased risk for infection.
“If we could cut the dosage of Taxol and retain the ability to target the cancer, we’d hope to reduce the ‘collateral damage’ that Taxol can cause,” said Gorbsky. “That could mean a significant decrease in side effects.”
Gorbsky said the experimental chemical, known as OM137, intervenes during the process of cell division, causing the process to short-circuit in cancer cells. “The healthy cells are still making very few mistakes when dividing, but the cancer cells fail to divide at all,” he said.
Gorbsky’s team will continue studying the experimental drug and a group of 10 related compounds, searching for the best option as they go forward with testing. “Our ultimate goal is to help improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients,” he said.
The research was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute and the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology.