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Drexel Scientists Develop Compound to Stop Spread of Metastatic Cancer Cells
Date:7/28/2014

Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) July 28, 2014

An estimated 68,000 women and men in the U.S. die each year from metastatic breast and prostate cancers – an aggressive form of the disease that occurs when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, bones, or brain. Now researchers at Drexel University College of Medicine have developed a compound directed at a target they identified that inhibits metastatic progression by blocking tumor cells from “re-seeding.” Their discovery has been accepted into a highly competitive drug development program at the National Cancer Institute and will now be headed to clinical trials.

The chemokine target was initially discovered and validated in 2004 by cancer biologist Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD, professor in the Departments of Pharmacology & Physiology and Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at Drexel. But it would be several years before he began working with medicinal chemist Joseph Salvino, PhD, also a pharmacology professor at Drexel, and the two discovered that Salvino could develop a compound aimed at Fatatis’ target to produce a new therapy to treat cancer patients.

The compound works by targeting circulating tumor cells which leak into the blood producing new lesions, most commonly in the skeleton, therefore precipitating the progression of the disease. “Cancer cells in the blood survive only a few hours,” explains Fatatis. “They need to rapidly find a new home. What this compound does is block tumor cells from seeding again and again and pushes them toward a natural death in the blood.”

The compound specifically targets the chemokine receptor CX3CR1, which is expressed on circulating tumor cells and implicated in metastasis to the bone.

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