Melanoma Cell Growth Inhibited by Novel Compound
News Jan 04, 2018 | by Laura Elizabeth Mason, Science Writer, Technology Networks
Cancer Cell Among 'Normal' Cells
Through a collaborative effort, researchers have developed a novel compound with the ability to inhibit melanoma cell growth. This research, published today in Nature Communications, could pave the way for the development of a new class of cancer therapies, with improved safety and efficacy.
The term ‘epigenetics’ is used to define the molecular processes that influence changes in gene expression, without directly affecting the original DNA sequence. The body is able to turn genes ‘on’ or ‘off’ via epigenetic changes. These changes can result in cellular modifications that can lead to the conversion of a cell from ‘normal’ to ‘cancerous’, and can also promote a tumor’s growth and resistance to treatment.
The novel compound ‘Corin’ can target specific epigenetic modifying proteins. Through this mechanism, it could be possible to significantly improve a patient’s condition, without unwanted adverse effects. The clinical use of epigenetic drugs is currently limited due to their limited therapeutic window and unexpected adverse effects. Corin’s dual-target specificity makes it an attractive inhibitor of epigenetic modifications, as it enables selective targeting of epigenetic complexes, more specifically, it inhibits cellular demethylase and deacetylase activity.
Co-corresponding author Rhoda M. Alani, MD, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), commented on the potential impact of their findings in a recent press release: "It is anticipated that this novel compound will have significant efficacy in human melanomas and other cancers either as a stand-alone therapy or in combination with other targeted or immune-based therapies,"
The researchers used a melanoma cell culture system to assess the efficacy of Corin, and determined that several cancer-associated activities; cellular growth, differentiation and migration, were affected in vitro. Additional experimental melanoma models demonstrated that the compound could inhibit tumor cell growth with nominal toxicity.
The team noted that the effectiveness of targeted epigenetic therapies may not be confined to the oncology field, as epigenetic changes are also known to affect the immune system.
Alani concluded: "It is expected that this study will lay the foundation for developing a new class of potent and effective cancer therapies and the development of reagents targeting epigenetic events in immune-mediated diseases as well as other epigenetically-influenced diseases."
In treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), physicians can have a hard time telling which newly diagnosed patients have a high risk of severe inflammation or what therapies will be most effective. Now researchers report finding an epigenetic signature in patient cells that appears to predict inflammation risk in a serious type of IBD called Crohn’s disease.