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Compounds Could Knock Out Cancer Tumors without Toxic Effects

Dr. Aleem Gangjee, Distinguished Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at Duquesne University’s Mylan School of Pharmacy, and his team of collaborators continue to test a compound that appears not only to prevent cancer tumors from developing but to eliminate already-existing tumors.

In 2008, tests of a new compound developed by Gangjee showed that it stifled the growth of cancer tumors, which were composed of KB tumor cells, in mice. An unexpected result also showed that the compound shrunk and eventually eliminated cancer tumors in another group of mice, which remained tumor-free for 60 days.

“What we’re seeing here is a compound that can treat early- and late-stage cancer,” Gangjee said. “There are many ramifications to that.”

A finding that particularly excites the noted cancer researcher is that neither test group suffered toxic effects, showing that the compound fights cancer cells without harming other organs and tissues—even in animals already weakened by advance-stage tumors.

Treatments of late-stage cancer commonly involve drugs toxic not only to the involved organ, but to surrounding tissues. As many cancers grow, they become more difficult to thwart because their cells become more diversified.

“Cancer cells are not the same; cells vary in a particular cancer and in a specific person, and sometimes diversify further as cancer progresses,” Gangjee said. This new compound, however, shows an ability to target even these diverse cancer cells.

Further studies of the compound will examine ovarian cancer in mice. Collaborators in the research, which is funded through the National Institutes of Health, include the Karmanos Cancer Center and Wayne State University in Detroit.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.