JAN 24, 2019 11:46 PM PST

Why Do Promising Cancer Drugs Fail?

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

After almost 20 years of a once-promising cancer drugs known as MMP inhibitors suddenly failed in clinical trials, scientists are now eager to provide an explanation.

MMP inhibitors, known as matrix metalloproteinases, originally work by targeting enzymes thought to be responsible for the spread of cancer. The results in the model C. elegans worms can lead to more effective ways to prevent the initial steps of metastasis, in what results in about 90 percent of all tumor-related deaths.

Learn more about MMPs in cancer metastasis:

Despite the promising results of MMP inhibitors in mice, they were not successful in people with some patients developing serious side effects. New findings suggest that maybe cancerous cells will convert themselves to a brute force when no dissolving enzymes are available. Findings were published in Developmental Cell.

Caption: This image shows the uncontrolled growth of cells in squamous cell carcinoma.

Credit: Markus Schober and Elaine Fuchs, The Rockefeller University, New York via NIH

The study suggested that the reason why MMPs did not work on human tumors is because--“Normal worm cells use their MMP enzymes to help cut through the matrix of proteins in the basement membrane like molecular scissors, the researchers say. But cells in "knockout" worms lacking the MMP enzymes instead build a large protrusion that pummels and smashes its way through with brute force,” said experimental leader and research scientist,” Laura Kelley.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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