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Pitt researchers reveal mechanism to halt cancer cell growth, discover potential therapy
Date:2/4/2013

e at Pitt's Center for Biologic Imaging run by Simon Watkins, Ph.D., a co-author of this study.

"Once we revealed this process for halting cancer cell growth by knocking out Drp1, we began looking into existing compounds that might utilize a similar mechanism," said Dr. Van Houten. "Now that we know affecting mitochondria in this manner inhibits cell growth, we could target drugs to this biological process to treat cancer."

The researchers found a compound called Mdivi-1 that makes cancer cells behave much the way they do when deficient in Drp-1. When used in combination with cisplatin, a drug already used to treat many solid cancers, rapid cell death can be induced in a wide range of cancer cells. This means that Mdivi-1 makes cisplatin work better.

Mdivi-1 is being tested in cancer cells in a laboratory setting. Those tests show that, while the compound acts as though it is depriving cancer cells of Drp1, it is actually using a different mechanism.

"To me, that's the serendipity of science, and it's really exciting," said Dr. Van Houten, who hopes eventually to move his laboratory tests on Mdivi-1 to clinical trials. "We were on the hunt for a drug that could make cancer cells deficient in Drp1 and, instead, we found a new cancer therapy that seems to work really well."


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Contact: Jennifer Yates
yatesjc@upmc.edu
412-647-9966
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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