MANHATTAN, KAN. -- Understanding how cancer cells communicate with each other and how to enhance their receptiveness to drug treatments is the focus of promising work by a Kansas State University researcher.
Annelise Nguyen, assistant professor of toxicology in the department of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine, recently received a $370,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue her cancer research.
"For the past five years I've focused on cell communication to understand the pathways between cells," Nguyen said. "The idea that I came up with is: What if giving a patient drugs, including chemotherapeutic drugs and pain relievers, actually shuts down cell communication, preventing the drug from passing from one cell to the next? If so, the drug isn't very effective, and that's why you have to increase dosages to reach most cells. Increasing the drug levels makes you resistant to the drug itself; thus, drug resistance is one of the challenges in the treatment of cancer."
Nguyen has worked with K-State's Duy Hua, university distinguished professor of chemistry, to synthesize a new compound a class of substitute quinolines and found that it possessed potent inhibitory activities against T47D breast cancer cells.
"What I demonstrate with this compound is that it enhances cell communication in breast cancer cells," Nguyen said. "What if we reopen the channels where cancer cells have low cell communication activity? In conjunction with existing chemotherapeutic drugs, can we reduce the concentration of these drugs by treating the patient with our cell communication enhancer? If so, the toxicity of these drugs will pass from cell to cell much more efficiently than previously. That's what this grant is all about."
The compound has been successful enough that Hua and Nguyen have applied for a patent. Nguyen said her work may have potential for more than just
|Contact: Annelise Nguyen|
Kansas State University