Researchers have designed a chemical compound that has reduced the growth of pancreatic cancer tumors by 80 percent in treated mice. The compound, called MM41, was designed to block faulty genes. It appears to do this by targeting little knots in their DNA, called quadruplexes, which are very different from normal DNA and which are especially found in faulty genes.
The findings, published in Nature Scientific Reports, showed that MM41 had a strong inhibiting effect on two genes - k-RAS and BCL-2 - both of which are found in the majority of pancreatic cancers.
The researchers conducted a small-scale trial, treating two groups of eight mice with pancreatic tumors with different doses of MM41 twice a week for 40 days (12 doses). A further control group received no treatment. The tumors in the group given the larger dose decreased by an average of 80 percent during the treatment period, and after 30 days, tumor regrowth stopped in all the mice. For two of the mice in this group, the tumor disappeared completely with no signs of regrowth after treatment ended for a further 239 days (the approximate equivalent to the rest of their natural life span).
Analysis of the mice tumors showed that the MM41 compound had been taken up into the nucleus of the cancer cells showing that it was able to effectively target the pancreatic cancer tumor.
The team also saw no significant side effects on the mice during the study: there was no damage to other tissue or organs, and none of the mice showed any significant weight loss.
The researchers stressed that although these results are exciting, further refinements are needed. They are now working to optimise the compounds.
Based on material originally posted by University College London.