DEC 04, 2018 5:35 AM PST

Drug Combination May Be Effective for Melanoma

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Protein kinase inhibitors have been noted to be the most effective class of drugs in the treatment of melanoma—a deadly skin cancer of the melanocytes.

However, these inhibitors, in many cases, result in drug resistance causing a relapse in the patient.

Now, a new study published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics suggested that the combination of kinase inhibitors with experimental drugs called ‘ribonucleases’ may be able to combat drug resistance and leading to better results. "We discovered that this ribonuclease drug could be paired favorably with other cancer chemotherapeutic agents, and not only that, the pairing made logical sense in terms of the underlying biochemistry," says Ronald Raines, the Firmenich Professor of Chemistry at MIT and senior author of the study.

Ribonucleases are enzymes that break down RNA molecules. They are produced by all human cells that and work to degrade cellular RNA and help defend against viral RNA. Overall, ribonucleases hold a unique ability to kill cells by damaging their RNA. "That means that should ribonuclease invade cells, there is an unbelievable defense system," Raines says.

In particular, the study observed an unexpected link between ribonucleases and enzymes--the protein kinases (targets of protein kinase inhibitors). This led researcher’s to the discovery of two drugs that can kill cancer cells at high efficacy. The discovery was the result of researchers using a ribonuclease inhibitor protein in human cells instead of E. coli, which they normally use to produce the protein. They found that the human-cell-produced version bound to ribonucleases 100 times more strongly.

MIT researchers are developing ribonucleases as potential drugs to treat cancer. In a new study, they found that the drugs work better when given with already-approved drugs known as kinase inhibitors.- MIT News

Image Credit: MIT News

Encouraged, the researchers created a ribonuclease drug that has been modified so ribonuclease inhibitors don't bind as tightly—one version of such drug has already made it to phase 1 clinical trial, stabilizing the disease in about 20 percent of patients.

Previously, researchers thought that human cells were somehow modifying the inhibitor to make it bind more tightly. These assumptions were confirmed when studies revealed that the inhibitor had attached phosphate groups which meant that it was phosphorylated. The "phosphorylation" allowed the inhibitor to bind strongly than previously suspected.

Source: MIT, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
MAY 23, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAY 23, 2020
Improving the understanding of GPCRs functioning
New research reported in Current Opinion in Structural Biology combines structural and spectroscopic approaches to garne ...
MAY 25, 2020
Cancer
MAY 25, 2020
Using Transcription Factors to Predict Bladder Cancer Prognosis
Bladder cancer is a rare form of cancer, with a relatively high recovery rate. Recurrence is still an issue; however, wi ...
MAY 13, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAY 13, 2020
Drug Targets Off Episodes of Parkinson
A novel drug was approved by the FDA to target the “off” episodes of Parkinson disease. The drug is referred ...
JUN 13, 2020
Neuroscience
JUN 13, 2020
High Doses of Ketamine Can Switch Off the Brain
Researchers from the University of Cambridge, England, have found that high doses of ketamine temporarily switch off the ...
JUN 10, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
JUN 10, 2020
Does Your Gut Microbiota Alter Drug Activity?
Scientists have created a systematic way to evaluate how the microbial community in our gut influences drug behavior. Fi ...
JUN 30, 2020
Health & Medicine
JUN 30, 2020
UK Loosens Regulation on Prescription CBD for Epilepsy
Epidyolex-the epilepsy drug that contains the non-psychoactive cannabis chemical cannabidiol, or CBD-has been changed fr ...
Loading Comments...