JUN 14, 2020 7:42 AM PDT

A Fungal Compound That Triggers Self-Destruction in Cancer Cells

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

To describe it in a very basic way, cancer is uncontrolled cell growth. A number of processes regulate various aspects of cell division and proliferation, and cancer can happen when they go awry.

The p53 gene is known to play an important role in controlling cell growth and is known as a tumor-suppressor gene. After cells get old or have finished serving their function, they can enter a natural process of programmed cell death called apoptosis. The relationship between p53 and apoptosis is complicated, and researchers are still learning about it, but it's been suggested that as p53 acquires mutations, apoptosis becomes inhibited and cancer can arise.

Researchers have known that a type of fungus called Ascochyta produces a compound called FE399; the findings were reported in Nature in 2014. When cancer cells growing in culture were exposed to the compound, apoptosis was triggered, killing the tumor cells. The compound may be particularly effective against colorectal cancer, but it has been difficult to extract and purify, which has prevented it from being explored in-depth as a therapeutic.

Reporting in the European Journal of Organic Chemistry, researchers have now found a way to synthesize the compound.

 "We wanted to create a lead compound that could treat colon cancer, and we aimed to do this through the total synthesis of FE399," said Professor Isamu Shiina of the Tokyo University of Science. The method, developed by a team that also included Dr. Takayuki Tonoi, uses precursors that are commercially available, making mass production possible.

After identifying the structure of the compound, the team did extensive work to create the molecule correctly. More studies will be needed to determine how safe and effective it is at treating cancer in patients, but now those studies will be possible.

"We hope that this newly produced compound can provide an unprecedented treatment option for patients with colorectal cancer, and thus improve the overall outcomes of the disease and ultimately improve their quality of life," said Professor Shiina.

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via Tokyo University of Science, European Journal of Organic Chemistry

 

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
SEP 14, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Cell Line Authentication Using STR Analysis
SEP 14, 2020
Cell Line Authentication Using STR Analysis
Imagine you’re studying colon cancer using a colon cell line model. After three painstaking years of research, you ...
SEP 23, 2020
Immunology
Gene That Fuels Antibody Factories Discovered
SEP 23, 2020
Gene That Fuels Antibody Factories Discovered
Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins that play a central role in the immune system’s arsenal of germ-busting weapons. ...
OCT 09, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Proteins Have an Orientation in Plant Cells
OCT 09, 2020
Proteins Have an Orientation in Plant Cells
Just like animals, plants are made of cells that are full of proteins. The proteins in plant cells are often only found ...
OCT 19, 2020
Plants & Animals
Genetically Engineered Foods Could Alleviate Nutritional Deficiencies
OCT 19, 2020
Genetically Engineered Foods Could Alleviate Nutritional Deficiencies
There are over two billion people around the world that don't get the recommended levels of minerals and vitamins in ...
OCT 20, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
The Gene Behind the Glow of the Sea Pickle is ID'ed
OCT 20, 2020
The Gene Behind the Glow of the Sea Pickle is ID'ed
In this photo by OceanX, researchers off the coast of Brazil collected Pyrosoma atlanticum specimens with a special robo ...
OCT 14, 2020
Neuroscience
Researchers Pinpoint Neurons Affected by Epilepsy
OCT 14, 2020
Researchers Pinpoint Neurons Affected by Epilepsy
Video: Explains in more detail the different receptors affected by epilepsy. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen ...
Loading Comments...