Marking a significant breakthrough in the research for cancer treatments, scientists have developed a compound that can kill some hard-to-treat cancer types. The findings are part of a new study published recently in the Nature Science. The new compound targets the vulnerability that wasn’t explored by researchers before. According to study leader and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UT Health Centre at San Antonio, Ratna Vadlamudi, PhD, the scientists identified a critical vulnerability in multiple cancers and validated the findings in multiple cancer cell types and animal models.
The professor added that the compound was found to have worked on a range of cell lines and xenografts, which shows it is “targeting a fundamental vulnerability in cancer cells.” Vadlamudi and his colleagues had discovered) a compound called ERX-11 while working at the Ratna Vadlamudi Lab, University of Texas Health Centre at San Antonio in 2017. The lab is geared up towards developing small-molecule inhibitors for therapy-resistant cancers by studying ovarian and breast cancers.
The ERX-11 compound targets the estrogen receptor (ER), which is the leading cause behind most of the breast cancers. After the compound was identified, scientists scanned through a screen of chemical analogs of ERX-11 and observed that another compound named ERX-41 was effective in killing ER-positive cancers in petri dishes. It was also found that the compound managed to eliminate triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs). The finding was significant as there is a lack of targeted treatments for TNBC due to the absence of progesterone, estrogen, and human epidermal growth factor 2 in it.
Casting the net wider, scientists, using mouse models, highlighted that ERX-41 also showed activity against a large number of human tumours. It was learned that the compound effectively shrunk the tumours in mouse models without resulting in toxicity in the animals or affecting normal breast cells.
In addition, ERX-41 proved to be working against other cancer types with elevated endoplasmic reticulum stress. These include cancers that don’t have many effective treatments for them like ovarian cancers, glioblastoma, and pancreatic cancers.
Scientists hope that the findings would help in development of new drugs bolstering the fight against some cancers.