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Small addition to cancer drug may make big difference
Date:12/8/2009

GAINESVILLE, Fla. University of Florida researchers have found a way to use just a fraction of the normal dosage of a highly toxic, debilitating chemotherapy drug to achieve even better results against colon cancer cells.

More research is needed before the therapy can be tested in patients, but the discovery in human colon cancer cell lines and mice with established human tumors suggests that the addition of a small molecule to the cancer drug Temozolomide disrupts repair mechanisms in a type of tumor cells that is highly resistant to treatment.

The discovery is featured on the cover of December's Molecular Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"This is very important because aside from aggressive surgery with possibly chemotherapy, there are no specific treatments for colon cancer," said Satya Narayan, a professor of anatomy and cell biology at the College of Medicine and a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center. "The recurrence rate for this type of cancer after surgery is very high, about 30 to 50 percent, and there is an urgent need to develop new approaches to manage this deadly disease."

The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be about 106,000 new cases of colon cancer in the United States in 2009. It is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in both men and women in the Western hemisphere. The disease forms in the large intestine and survival rates vary according to how soon the cancer is diagnosed and the treatment is started.

Narayan's research team evaluated more than 140,000 small molecules, finally arriving at a tiny molecule that precisely blocks the ability of cancer cells to recognize and repair the DNA damage inflicted by Temozolomide, or TMZ.

"Our idea was if you induce DNA damage (with TMZ), and at the same time block cell repair, you can synergize toxic effects to the cancer cells," Narayan said. "We hope that with this
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Contact: John Pastor
jdpastor@ufl.edu
352-273-5815
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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