April 11, 2016

Drug developed in Turku blocks a notorious cancer driver

The new drug might be particularly relevant for cancers of women.
The new drug might be particularly relevant for cancers of women.
IStock.com/bbtomas

A research group at the Turku Centre for Biotechnology has found a novel way to inhibit a particularly vicious activity of one of the most notorious cancer drivers: the oncoprotein Ras.

The results suggest a particular relevance of their experimental drugs for cancers of women, such as breast, ovarian and uterine. The scientists found a way to inhibit the activity of the Ras version, called K-ras. Their experimental drugs specifically block the activity of K-ras to support the so called ‘cancer stem cells’, which are the actual cells that can seed a tumor.

“Tumor seeding is what happens when the cancer spreads throughout the body, during metastisation, a late-stage development that typically leads to a fatal outcome. Thus blocking K-ras dramatically reduces tumor growth and formation,” explains Phd Daniel Abankwa, leader of the research group and docent at Åbo Akademi University.

According to University of Turku, cancer researchers and drug developers around the world hunt for a drug against this notorious cancer driver.

“It was once considered impossible to find drugs against Ras”, says Abankwa. “However, spurred by the Ras initiative of the National Cancer Institute (NCI, USA), the current view has dramatically changed. Recent experimental drug development success stories suggest that after all the ‘holy grail’ of cancer research ‒ the development of a Ras directed drug ‒ could finally be achieved. […] We may end up getting really close to the Holy Grail of cancer research right here in Turku.”

The research group at the Turku Centre for Biotechnology is a joint department of the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University. They work together with the research group of professor Tero Aittokallio from the University of Turku and Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland.

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