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Compound Attacks Cancer on Two Fronts

FdUMP(10) is up to 400 times more powerful than conventional chemo

WEDNESDAY, April 20, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- New insights into how a potential anti-cancer agent works to fight malignancy could lead to better cancer treatments, researchers say.

In laboratory studies, a compound called FdUMP(10) was found to be 300 to 400 times more effective than a conventional chemotherapy, fluorouracil, at killing prostate cancer cells. The compound has also proven effective against leukemia and colon cancer cells.

According to researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the compound inhibits an enzyme called thymidylate synthase, which plays a major role in the rapid growth and division of cancer cells. In their latest research, they found that FdUMP(10) also inhibits another enzyme, topoisomerase, that plays a major role in cancer cell division.

"Inhibiting topoisomerase causes DNA strands to break, which is an important mechanism that leads to cell death," William Gmeiner, a professor of cancer biology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, explained in a prepared statement.

The findings were presented April 19 at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, in Anaheim, Calif.

"Now, we have more information about how it's actually killing cancer cells. We knew that it damaged DNA but did not know the mechanism. Our latest research helped us learn what target we're hitting," Gmeiner said.

This new understanding could help researchers develop ways to combine FdUMP (10) with other treatments to reach multiple targets.

"There are likely novel combinations that we wouldn't have envisioned before this study," Gmeiner said.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about cancer drugs.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, April 19, 2005
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