Scientists Create A Cancer Protein-Busting Compound

There are many effective cancer treatments that can make a huge difference to your life, either by extending it or defeating your cancer outright. But the world of cancer research never stands still and potential new treatments are emerging all the time.

Among these is a new development emerging from the Institute for Cancer Research (ICR). It has announced the successful creation by its scientists of a new compound that can break down cancer-causing proteins.

Described by the ICR as a “molecular glue-type degrader”, the compound has the potential to be developed into a cancer drug that could neutralise the proteins that cause cancers like B-cell lymphoma.

The work focused on the fact that cells have their own natural system for disposing of cells that cause disease. However, this system does not always have the compounds it needs to fight against all proteins, in particular some that can cause cancer.

What this project did was see the creation of just such a compound that selectively sticks to a protein known as BCL6, which is essential for B-cell lymphoma cells to survive. The protein works by binding to DNA and regulating the genes that cause cells to divide or die; so by inhibiting it, the causal sequence that enables cancer to develop can be halted or at least slowed down.

Having already discovered some compounds that could inhibit BCL6 proteins, the researchers found that some they had created could go further and actually degrade them. Experiments in mice showed this could greatly slow the development of tumours.

While the effects were modest, researchers said they did indicate that this compound plus other inhibitor drugs could be very effective as a therapy against B-cell lymphoma.

Head of chemistry at the IR Professor Swen Hoelder said: “I’m pleased to announce the discovery of our new molecular glue-type degrader of BCL6 in this new study, which is also a great example of creative science in a cutting-edge, innovative field in cancer drug discovery.”

As well as potentially leading to the development of anti-cancer drugs, the discovery could also help increase understanding of the biology of BCL6 proteins, which may help with the development of other treatments.

The studies, partly funded by Cancer Research UK, were published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

As ever with this kind of development, more research may be needed and work undertaken to trial new drugs that are developed, especially in human trials to show that the promising results revealed by animal experimentation can be replicated in homo sapiens.

The ICR has achieved a number of breakthroughs in its research into cancer of various forms, leading to new treatments.

For example, its research in the area of bladder cancer found that providing radiotherapy and chemotherapy simultaneously was effective in preventing the cancer from returning and had fewer side-effects than other treatments.

Another of its studies in this field found that fewer but larger doses of radiotherapy was more effective in treating this form of cancer and preventing it from coming back.