Marked for destruction: Newly developed compound triggers cancer cell death

May 24, 2012

The BCL-2 protein family plays a large role in determining whether cancer cells survive in response to therapy or undergo a form of cell death known as apoptosis. Cells are pressured toward apoptosis by expression of pro-apoptotic BCL-2 proteins. However, cancer cells respond to therapy by increasing expression of anti-apoptotic proteins, which bind and neutralize pro-apoptotic family members and mediate therapeutic resistance. Therefore, development of therapeutic strategies to neutralize resistance to apoptosis will be critical to clinical improvements.

A research group from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, led by Dr. Loren Walensky, developed a compound modeled directly from the pro-apoptotic the death domain of BCL-2, the BIM BH3 domain. This compound, known as a stapled BIM BH3 peptide, was found to competitively bind with anti-apoptotic proteins and led to enhanced apoptosis in . They also showed that tumor growth in mice was suppressed by the stapled BIM BH3 compound and that the new compound worked synergistically with other with pharmaceutical agents that promote apoptosis. The potential therapeutic effects of stapled BIM BH3 were further shown by activation of cell death in an tumor model in mice with little side effects on surrounding tissue.

Their study presents a new formulation of a BH3 mimetic that has broad BCL-2 family targeting and may provide significant clinical benefit.

Explore further: New strategy to attack tumor-feeding blood vessels

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Combination therapy can prevent cytostatic resistance

November 26, 2015

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have found a new way of preventing resistance to cytostatics used in the treatment of cancers such as medulloblastoma, the most common form of malignant brain tumour in children. The promising ...

Forecasting the path of breast cancer in a patient

November 23, 2015

USC researchers have developed a mathematical model to forecast metastatic breast cancer survival rates using techniques usually reserved for weather prediction, financial forecasting and surfing the Web.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.