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Compound Could Stop Cancer Growth

It might prove effective against a third of malignancies, discoverers say

TUESDAY, March 22, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've discovered a compound that blocks a known cancer-causing protein.

The compound, called cysmethynil, inhibits destructive cell signals responsible for the growth of a third of all cancers, say investigators at Duke University's Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Durham, N.C.

In laboratory research, the scientists found that cysmethynil blocked the growth of cultured colon cancer cells. The results appear in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Senior investigator Patrick Casey, a pharmacologist and cancer biologist, said this could be the first step toward developing a new class of anti-cancer drugs that prevent the a protein called Icmt from causing uncontrolled cell growth.

"This is the first selective small molecule inhibitor of Icmt, a protein that has been shown to be an important player in keeping a cancer-causing gene called 'Ras' turned on inside cells," Casey said in a prepared statement.

Mutations in the Ras gene, which is a normal genetic component of cells, can cause the Ras gene to get stuck in the "on" position, resulting in uncontrolled cell growth. These kinds of Ras mutations have been found in a number of cancers, including half of all colon malignancies and 90 percent of pancreatic cancers.

Duke University has filed a patent for cysmethynil and plans to begin testing the compound in animal models of cancer.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about cancer.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, March 21, 2005
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