DEC 30, 2016 1:47 PM PST

Male Contraception Candidate Drug may Also Shrink Testicular Tumor

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

An experimental drug that was originally intended to work for male contraception may also work to shrink testicular cancer.

The drug is a small-molecule inhibitor by the name of JQ1. Instead of working to influence changes at the DNA level, JQ1 affects changes at the epigenetic level. In particular, this drug interferes with protein binding at the bromodomain - a stretch of amino acids that “reads” certain chemical tags on histones.

"JQ1 inhibits those proteins that read these histone marks and thus changes the gene activity in the cell," explained Hubert Schorle from the Institute for Pathology at the University of Bonn, and the study’s senior author.

Previously, researchers showed that JQ1 inhibited an essential part of sperm development. Treatment of this drug in mice led to smaller testes, sperm count and motility. As such, it was considered for the part of a male contraceptive drug.

In studying the mechanisms of JQ1’s actions, researcher at the University of Bonn realized that the molecule could also influence testicular cancer development. JQ1 appears to inhibit bromodomain and extraterminal (BET) proteins, which in testicular cancer, triggers cellular stress signals and cause the cell to die.

"In a testicular cancer mouse model, the tumors began to shrink after administering JQ1," said Sina Jostes, the study’s lead author. "In contrast, healthy skin cells seem to tolerate JQ1 very well." The team showed positive tumor shrinkage in both cell culture and live animal models.

Jostes and colleagues also tested the effects of JQ1 alongside another histone deacetylase inhibitor known as romidepsin. This drug has previously been tested and approved for testicular cancer. However, the team reported that the combination of JQ1 and romidepsin seemed to have the greatest effect, especially in cancer types that proved resistant to therapy.

"In our study, we treated mice with both JQ1 and romidepsin," said Daniel Nettersheim, the study’s co-author. "This way, we achieved a similar effect alike JQ1 or romidepsin treatment alone, but we could reduce the quantities of both substances. Such a combination therapy to treat testicular tumors may be much better tolerated. Chemotherapy-resistant patients could also benefit from this."

Both the anticancer effects and the contraceptive effects of JQ1 are under further investigation.

Additional source:  University of Bonn

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
MAR 21, 2020
Cancer
MAR 21, 2020
Identifying aggressive prostate cancer subtypes
New research published yesterday in the British Journal of Cancer from scientists at the University of East Anglia descr ...
APR 09, 2020
Cancer
APR 09, 2020
Adjuvant immunotherapy proves effective for colon cancer
Results from a study published in Nature Medicine highlights the benefits of receiving pre-surgery immunotherapy for som ...
APR 21, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
APR 21, 2020
Skin Deep: Handheld Device Sees the Earliest Signs of Cancer
Researchers have developed a handheld device that can image structures under the skin at resolutions 100 times greater t ...
MAY 01, 2020
Cancer
MAY 01, 2020
Cancer patients' high mortality from COVID-19
A study published today in the online edition of Cancer Discovery reports that people with cancer who develop COVID-19 a ...
MAY 26, 2020
Cancer
MAY 26, 2020
Does having a child with cancer increase parents' risk of divorce?
A study from Denmark published in the American Cancer Society journal CANCER reports that having a child with cancer doe ...
MAY 28, 2020
Cancer
MAY 28, 2020
The Oncogenic Hazard of a Potential Alzheimer's Treatment
Breast cancer remains one of the most common cancers around the world. Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) is a sub-typ ...
Loading Comments...