Two new compounds created by a University of Central Florida professor show early promise for destroying breast cancer tumors.
Associate Professor James Turkson's compounds disrupt the formation and spread of breast cancer tumors in tests on mice. The compounds, S3I-201 and S3I-M2001, break up a cancer-causing protein called STAT3, and researchers have observed no negative side effects so far.
"The compounds are very promising," Turkson said. "They've worked very well in mice, and now we're looking for partners to help us take these compounds to the next level of trials."
Turkson's research has been published in the academic journals Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and ACS Chemical Biology, and he has obtained patents for both compounds.
Turkson is passionate about his research and has a very personal reason for wanting to find a cure for cancer. During his first year of college, his 52-year-old mother was diagnosed with uterine cancer and died. He dedicated his life to finding a cure.
The two compounds developed in his lab hold promise in part because they efficiently disrupt the abnormally active STAT3 protein he said.
"We all have the STAT3 protein in our bodies, and under normal circumstances it causes no harm. But in breast cancer patients, the protein is abnormally active. It never shuts off."
When that happens, the protein goes into overdrive and is bent on supporting the proliferation of breast cancer cells. The protein even creates a network of blood vessels to feed the cancer cells, support their growth and eventually promote the spread of the cancer into the blood, bones and organs.
"Our compounds go after STAT3, stripping away its power," Turkson said.
Both compounds disrupt the bonding process that one STAT3 molecule goes through to connect with another in the body. If the STAT3 can't bond to stay abnormally-active, cancer cells can't develop.
|Contact: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala|
University of Central Florida