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Drug slows prostate tumor growth by keeping vitamin A active
Date:11/6/2007

SINGAPORE -- A novel compound that blocks the breakdown of retinoic acid, derived from vitamin A, is a surprisingly effective and promiscuous agent in treating animal models of human prostate cancer, say investigators from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).

Daily injections of the agent VN/14-1 resulted in up to a 50 percent decrease in tumor volume in mice implanted with human prostate cancer cells, reported Aakanksha Khandelwal, Ph.D., today at the American Association for Cancer Research Centennial Conference on Translational Cancer Medicine. No further tumor growth was seen during the five-week study, Khandelwal reports.

Importantly, VN/14-1 exerted its effects in multiple ways, which is the hallmark of a so-called promiscuous drug, according to the studys senior investigator, Vincent C.O. Njar, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics within UMBs School of Medicine.

This potent agent causes cancer cells to differentiate, forcing them to turn back to a non-cancerous state − which is what we expected it would do − but it also stops cancer growth by arresting the cell cycle and pushes cells to die by inducing programmed cell death, Njar said.

These functions were unexpected and wonderfully surprising, he said. I am not aware that any other drug currently used to treat prostate cancer targets so many pathways.

Vitamin A, when converted by the body into retinoic acid, is known to be involved in maintaining the normal growth of cells, and other research has shown that prostate cancer cells contain five to eight times less retinoic acid than normal prostate cells. Njars laboratory developed a number of compounds, including VN/14-1, with the aim of inhibiting the normal breakdown of retinoic acid in cancer cells.

The agent is similar in function to the well-known acne and anti-aging therapy, Retin-A, as well as to the leukemia drug Vesa
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Contact: Staci Vernick Goldberg
staci.goldberg@aacr.org
267-646-0616
American Association for Cancer Research
Source:Eurekalert

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