Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Cancer’s Thirst For Copper Can Be Targeted

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Last Updated: Thursday, April 10, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Drugs used to block copper absorption for a rare genetic condition may find an additional use as a treatment for certain types of cancer.

The Duke University researchers found that cancers with a mutation in the BRAF gene require copper to promote tumor growth. These tumors include melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer that kills an estimated 10,000 people in the United States a year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“BRAF-positive cancers like melanoma almost hunger for copper,” said Christopher M. Counter, Ph.D., professor of Pharmacology & Cancer Biology at Duke University School of Medicine and senior author of the study published April 9, 2014, in Nature.

The BRAF gene is involved in regulating cell division and differentiation. When mutated, the gene causes cells to grow out of control. Using animal models and cells, Counter and colleagues found that when they experimentally inhibited copper uptake by tumors with the BRAF mutation, they could curb tumor growth.

They achieved similar results with drugs used to treat patients with Wilson disease, a genetic disorder in which copper builds up in the tissue, primarily the brain and liver, causing damage. 

“Oral drugs used to lower copper levels in Wilson disease could be repurposed to treat BRAF-driven cancers like melanoma, or perhaps even others like thyroid or lung cancer,” said Donita C. Brady, Ph.D., lead author of the study. 

Already, a clinical trial has been approved at Duke to test the copper-reducing drugs in patients with melanoma, although enrollment has not yet begun:

“This is a great example of how basic research moves from the laboratory to the clinic,” Counter said. 

In addition to Counter and Brady, study authors include Matthew S. Crowe, Michelle L. Turski, G. Aaron Hobbs, Xiaojie Yao, Apirat Chaikuad, Stefan Knapp, Kunhong Xiao, Sharon L. Campbell and Dennis J. Thiele.

The National Institutes of Health provided funding (CA178145, HL075443, DK074192, CA094184, and CA172104), as did the Lymphoma Foundation and donations made in the name of Linda Woolfenden. A full list of additional funders is included in the manuscript.

Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,200+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

New ‘Mega-Complex’ Involved in Cell Signaling Discovered
Duke Health-led researchers have discovered new information about the signaling mechanism of cells that could one day help guide development of more specific drug therapies.
Tuesday, August 09, 2016
Poliovirus Therapy Wins 'Breakthrough' Status
FDA decision will fast-track research on breakthrough Duke brain cancer therapy.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Protein Structures Assemble and Disassemble On Command
Gene sequences may enable control of building bio-structures.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Molecular Tinkering Doubles Cancer Drug’s Efficacy
Researchers have packaged a widely used cancer drug into nanoparticles, more than doubling its effectiveness at destroying tumors.
Thursday, August 06, 2015
Outsmarting HIV With Vaccine Antigens Made to Order
AIDS vaccine researchers may be one step closer to outwitting HIV, thanks to designer antibodies and antigens made to order at Duke University.
Thursday, July 02, 2015
Cancer-Fighting Drugs Might Also Stop Malaria Early
A number of compounds have been identified which could be used to fight malaria.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Slow-Release "Jelly" Novel Drug Deliverer
Biomedical engineers have developed a novel method to overcome the major hurdles facing a promising new class of peptide drugs to treat diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Scientific News
Unravelling the Role of Key Genes and DNA Methylation in Blood Cell Malignancies
Researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center have demonstrated the role of Dnmt3a in safeguarding normal haematopoiesis.
Influential Cancer Researcher Receives Agilent Thought Leader Award
Biologist Scott Lowe receives award in recognition for his contributions to cancer biology.
Gene-Editing Cures Genetic Blood Disorder in Mice
New technology may offer minimally invasive treatment for genetic disorders of the blood.
ALS Study Reveals Role of RNA-Binding Proteins
The findings are a significant step forward in validating RNA-based therapy as a treatment for ALS.
New Compound Shows Promise in Treating Multiple Human Cancers
The research presents a new way to efficiently kill these cancerous cells and holds promise for the treatment of all cancers.
Tumor Markers Reveal Lethality Of Bladder Cancers
Researchers found that detection of certain tumor cells in early stage cancers helps identify high-risk cancers.
Lab-on-a-Chip to Help Detect Cancer
In this podcast, we speak to Gustavo Stolovitsky to learn about his career and the work he is doing at IBM Research.
Nanomedicine Aims to Improve HIV Drug Therapies
New research aims to improve the administration and availability of drug therapies to HIV patients using nanotechnology.
IU Research Reveals Link between Molecular Mechanisms in Prostate Cancer and Ewing's sarcoma
Researchers at IU have suggested that the molecular mechanism that triggers the rare disease Ewing's sarcoma could act as a potential new direction for the treatment of more than half of patients with prostate cancer.
Fighting Cancer with Immune Response
New treatment elicits two-pronged immune response that destroys tumors in mice.

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,200+ scientific videos