Breakthrough in understanding of how cancer treatment drugs affect cells

January 14, 2013, Victoria University

(Medical Xpress)—A young Victoria University scientist is part of a team whose work has been published in the prestigious international magazine Science, for research that will open doors to developing much more effective cancer treatment drugs.

Jessica Field, who is due to complete her PhD late in the year, won a highly-sought after European scholarship to allow her to study in Madrid, where she joined a research team led by Dr José Fernando Díaz of the Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, Madrid, Spain.

The team made the ground-breaking discovery of proving how some existing cancer treatment drugs really work in , by obtaining a high resolution X-ray of the . The research shows a much more exact understanding of how the drugs fight cancer cells.

"In the past, we have used these drugs, understanding their general effect on cancer cells—but without intricately knowing exactly how they work," says Jessica.

The new research means that in the future, scientists all over the world will be better equipped to develop more targeted cancer treatment drugs, with improved capability and fewer side effects.

Professor John Miller, from Victoria University's School of , says he is very proud of Jessica's achievements.

"The research itself is incredible, and has the potential to change the face of in the future. The very fact that it has been published in such a highly regarded publication is testament to its importance, and testament to the brilliant work that Jessica and our colleagues have done."

Earlier in her studies, Jessica made a remarkable discovery when she was asked to take a compound that had not been previously investigated and find out what it does.

She found that the compound, called Zampanolide, has the ability to prevent cancer cells from dividing, which could stop the spread of cancer. But one of its most remarkable functions is the way that it works within the cancer cell.

"The major problem with a cancer drug is that over time, cancer cells can find a way to oust the drug, becoming resistant to the medication," Jessica explains. "Because of the way this new compound interacts with cancer cells, it cannot be removed from the cell, so they can't become resistant to the drug by this mechanism."

Zampanolide was initially isolated by Victoria University's Associate Professor Peter Northcote, from sea sponges found in Tonga, but can now be made synthetically. This, says Jessica, is a major benefit.

"In the past, to find Zampanolide, we would have to individually screen marine sponges for its presence. Now, we can make it in the quantities we require."

Explore further: Mushroom compound appears to improve effectiveness of cancer drugs

Related Stories

Mushroom compound appears to improve effectiveness of cancer drugs

October 11, 2011
A compound isolated from a wild, poisonous mushroom growing in a Southwest China forest appears to help a cancer killing drug fulfill its promise, researchers report.

Renal cancer cells target of new bark-derived drug

November 5, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Associate Professor Joe W. Ramos, PhD, a cancer biologist at the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center in collaboration with Assistant Professor William Chain, PhD, from the UH Mānoa's Chemistry Department ...

Tiny antibody fragments raised in camels find drug targets in human breast cancer cells

April 11, 2011
A new discovery published online in The FASEB Journal promises to help physicians identify patients most likely to benefit from breast cancer drug therapies. If the compound, called "Nanobody," proves effective in clinical ...

Recommended for you

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

0 comments

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.