Researchers from California and Denmark were recently awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for the development of what’s called “click” chemistry.” This novel method enables researchers to put molecules together like Legos, which allows molecules to work more efficiently when transporting pharmaceuticals and other drugs to cancer cells.
Click chemistry has previously only been studied in mice models. Studies in larger animals have not been attempted due to assumptions that the larger an organism, the more difficult it would be for two molecules to find one another and click. However, a team of researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have proven how click chemistry could be used to deliver cancer drugs to dogs with bone cancer. Their work is described in a recent article published in Molecular Molecules.
The issue addressed by click chemistry has to do with the large size of many molecules used to treat cancer, such as antibodies. While effective tools, their size means they end up staying in the blood stream for sometimes days. Depending on what’s attached to that antibody, circulation constantly around the body could pose new health risks and reduce how much of a radiopharmaceutical compound reaches the actual tumor, limiting the effectiveness of treatment. Click chemistry could offer a way to guide these large molecules to their target.
Specifically, researchers were able to deliver doses of radiopharmaceuticals to dogs weighting more than 100 pounds, with a high degree of specificity for their tumors.
In dogs with bone cancer specifically, a visible tumor is hardly ever the only tumor in the dogs’ body. Often times, dogs have other tumors that can be hard to find and reach. With the use of click chemistry (and the help of imaging tools), researchers are able to more easily find tumors that are otherwise hard to spot.
Researchers believe their work offers a promising step towards the use of click chemistry in humans, though much more research is needed.