New York, June 3 (IANS) Researchers have identified a promising new compound that has appeared to slow down a process that fuels breast cancer in mice, a discovery that could have implications in treating a host of cancers.
Apart from short-circuiting the proliferation of cancer cells, the new agent, which the researchers called Fasnall, also contributed to the death of existing cancer cells, the researchers said.
The findings showed that mice injected with the Fasnall survived for an average of 63 days, more than double the lifespan of the mice in the control group.
After three weeks, tumours in the mice that received Fasnall were about two-thirds the size of those in the control group.
Further, when Fasnall was tried alongside carboplatin — the chemotherapy drug — tumours shrank and survival increased.
Fasnall inhibits the normal activity of fatty acid synthase — an enzyme — which regulates cell growth and proliferation, the researchers said.
“Cancer is uncontrolled cell division and fatty acid synthase helps make the raw materials that make the cells divide,” said Jesse Kwiek, Associate Professor at The Ohio State University in the US.
Fasnall interrupts fatty acid synthesis and effectively robs the cancer of a molecule it needs in order to grow.
“Tumour cells are quite dependent on that enzyme as a fuel source for survival, which if targeted, can starve the tumour cell of its energy source and also trigger changes that convince the cell to essentially kill itself,” said Timothy Haystead, Cancer Biologist at Duke University in the US.
The mice in the study showed no signs of major side effects of Fasnall, such as weight gain or loss or significant changes in liver enzymes.
Fasnall needs more testing in animals before it can be employed in human studies, Haystead said.
The study, published in the journal Cell Chemical Biology, focused on mice with HER2-positive breast cancer, which is responsible for about one in five breast cancer diagnoses in women.