JAN 24, 2019 10:06 AM PST

Drug Slows Cancer's Circadian Clock

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

According to a study done on human kidney cancer cells and acute myeloid leukemia cells in mice, a compound was examined to halt the cancerous growth by stunting the cell’s biological clock. The compound is named GO289 and works by targeting an enzyme that slows down the cell's circadian rhythm. Since disrupting the essential factors that make up the circadian rhythm can negatively impact health—the same applies for the circadian clock of cells which has concerned researchers that a compound like GO289 might affect healthy cells.

Learn more about circadian rhythms:

Essentially, the drug-protein interaction disrupts the functions of other proteins that are important for cell growth and survival. "In some cancers, the disease takes over the circadian clock mechanism and uses it for the evil purpose of helping itself grow," says Steve Kay, director of convergent biosciences at the USC Michelson Center and USC Provost Professor of Neurology, Biomedical Engineering and Biological Sciences. "With GO289, we can interfere with those processes and stop the cancer from growing."

The photograph shows an enlarged view of human bone cancer cells, which stopped growing when a drug molecule, GO289, jammed their circadian rhythm.

Credit: USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience via ScienceDaily

However, the researchers wanted to see if GO289 hindered other cancers in anyway. They tested GO289 on human bone cancer cells and was examined to inhibit an enzyme named CK2--slowing down the tumors' circadian clock. They concluded that GO289 inhibited cancer cell metabolism and other circadian-related functions that normally would enable the cancer to metastasize.

Findings of the study were published in Science Advances and seeks to bring life to the study of circadian rhythms as a method of fight against cancer. "This could become an effective new weapon that kills cancer," says Kay.

Source: USC Dornsife

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.
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