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New way to target - and kill - proliferating tumors
Date:11/13/2011

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center have identified a new drug discovery approach enabling the destruction of the most highly proliferative tumors. The discovery, published in the Nov. 13 online issue of the journal Nature Medicine, points to an effective, alternative method for killing fast-growing cancer cells without causing some of the negative effects of current therapies.

The scientists, led by David A. Cheresh, PhD, professor of pathology and associate director for translational research at the Moores Cancer Center, used an innovative chemical and biological approach to design a new class of drugs that arrests division in virtually all tumor cells by binding to and altering the structure of an enzyme called RAF.

RAF has been long-studied, but its role in cell division critical to cell proliferation and tumor growth was a surprise. "By designing a new class of drugs that changes the shape of RAF, we were able to reveal this previously undiscovered role for RAF in a wide range of highly proliferative tumors," Cheresh said.

Current cancer drugs that target enzymes like RAF are generally designed to interact with the active site of the enzyme. Unfortunately, these drugs often lack specificity, Cheresh said. "They hit many different targets, meaning they can produce undesired side effects and induce dose-limiting toxicity." More of a concern is that tumor cells often develop resistance to this class of drugs rendering them inactive against the cancer.

Cheresh and colleagues pursued development of a new class of RAF inhibitors that do not bind to the active site of the enzyme and so avoid the limitations of current drugs. Instead, this new class, called allosteric inhibitors, changes the shape of the target enzyme and in doing so, renders it inactive. The specific drug tested, known as KG5, singles out RAF in proliferating cells, bu
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Contact: Scott LaFee
slafee@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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