Medical specialists at Wake Forest University have developed a new targeted therapy that delivers a sneak attack on cancer — an approach they are likening to a “Trojan horse” assault.
Current platinum-based breast cancer drugs, such as the blockbuster medication cisplatin, are ineffective against many common and difficult-to-cure types of cancer, including lung and breast disease.
But Wake Forest medicinal chemist Ulrich Bierbach has spent a decade designing tumor-seeking synthetic materials that attach platinum to cancer drugs that allow them to “hitch a ride” into breast tumor cells and effectively kill them — like a Trojan horse. Results of his work, which is funded by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, are published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. SPECIAL: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer — Read More.
"Platinum-based drugs cause severe damage to the DNA in cancer cells. Unfortunately, most cancers are smart enough to cut out the DNA damage and repair it, and that's the starting point for our structural design,” said Bierbach, who recently completed a four-year term with the California Breast Cancer Research Program. “We developed a compound that does a good job therapeutically by overwhelming the 'damage repair police' of the cell."
Initial preclinical studies have proven Bierbach's therapeutic approach to be 500 times more powerful than cisplatin in treating non-small cell lung cancer, 80-100 times for pancreatic cancer, and up to 10 times for breast cancer.
"Within the next two years, we hope to turn our platinum-based drugs into safer, targeted warheads by attaching them to vehicles that will take them to a specific type of cancer and act as a guided missile," he said.SPECIAL: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer — Read More.