JUL 28, 2017 01:03 PM PDT

New Compound Targets Melanoma Division and Growth

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Broccoli, the polarizing cruciferous vegetable, is back in the headlines again. This time, researchers were inspired by a compound rich in this family of vegetables. When the engineered version was tested in a melanoma mouse model, it resulted in a 69 percent reduction in tumor size.

Image credit: Pixabay.com

The compound is currently known by a wildly complicated name: napthalamide-isoselenocyanate (NISC-6). The team got to this compound by modifying isoselenocyanate, which just so happens to be quite similar to another chemical found in vegetables, known as isothiocyanate. The natural version is rich in vegetables belonging to the cabbage family, which also includes cauliflower, kale, turnips, collards, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and radish.

NISC-6 has dual action: It blocks the Akt1 pathway, which promotes cell survival and growth, and the human topoisomerase IIα (topo IIα), an enzyme involved in changing the structure of DNA. It’s thought that both Akt1 and topo IIα contribute to melanoma growth.

"When a cell divides and grows, the DNA inside will become tangled much like the way a rope will if you take it and keep turning it in circles, it will get tangled. To untangle the rope you can either cut and join the rope or spend long time turning it in opposite direction to untangle it," explained Deepkamal Karelia, the study’s lead author. "The DNA has the same issue in our cells. To solve the problem, our bodies have a protein called topoisomerase, which cuts the DNA and joins it back to release the stress. What we show in this paper is this compound may be able to inhibit that activity of topo IIα protein -- the DNA is unable to unwind itself."

In lab experiments, NISC-6 caused human melanoma cells to go on a suicide mission. In mice with transplanted human melanomas, the tumors shrank by 69 percent. Furthermore, the team reports the compound has “excellent compliance” to Lipinski’s rule of five - a common pharmaceutical rule of thumb to evaluate if a drug is likely to be orally active, based on its molecular properties. While there are always exceptions to the rule, it’s been noted that compounds which adhere to the rule of five tend to have a higher chance of going to market.

The team has a long road ahead of them. They are still in the process of fully understanding how NISC-6 targets melanoma growth. But as to the link to broccoli, it’s important to remember that while NISC-6 has similarities to a chemical found in the vegetables, eating more of these veggies won’t necessarily do much if the tumor is already there.

"There are a lot of recommendations that, for example, broccoli can reduce your chances of getting cancer," said Dr. Arun Sharma, the study’s senior author. "Those are OK recommendations for prevention, but the compounds in the vegetables alone may not be potent enough to be used in a therapeutic environment."

Additional source: Penn State

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
AUG 14, 2018
Cancer
AUG 14, 2018
Using Arsenic to Enhance Cancer Therapies Beyond Leukemia
An already existing combination of arsenic and all-trans retinoic acid is found to inhibit a key signaling pathway that exerts broad effect on oncogenic processes for some solid tumors....
AUG 21, 2018
Cancer
AUG 21, 2018
Theranostics.....Heard of it?
Theranostics is an emerging field that combines therapeutics and diagnostic capabilities into one opportunity for treatment of diseases, especially cancer....
AUG 29, 2018
Immunology
AUG 29, 2018
Artificial Intelligence Predicts Response to Immunotherapy
Artificial intelligence can process CT scan images to determine biological and clinical information that can predict immunotherapy efficacy thanks to machine learning....
OCT 08, 2018
Immunology
OCT 08, 2018
Natural Killer Cells to Aid in Cancer Therapy
Researchers utilize nanoparticles to stimulate NK cells that induce tumor cells to express PDL1, a protein involved in immune response messaging...
NOV 23, 2018
Health & Medicine
NOV 23, 2018
Fatty NK Cells Can't Target Cancer
Scientists have found yet another link between obesity and cancer. Obesity has long been known to increase the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, type...
DEC 09, 2018
Immunology
DEC 09, 2018
A Better Human Immune System: In Mice
We've cured cancer and autoimmune disease in mice many times over....
Loading Comments...