Researchers Discover New Molecules with the Potential to Treat Breast Cancer

 Behind the Cancer Headlines®

May 8, 2007 

 

Hamilton College researchers have identified molecules that have been shown to be effective in the fight against breast cancer. Their results were published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society

The researchers, led by Winslow Professor of Chemistry George Shields and co-director of the Center for Molecular Design Karl Kirschner, used state-of-the-art computational techniques in a novel way to design molecules that they predicted would be effective lead compounds for breast cancer research. Scientists from the Albany Medical College subsequently synthesized the predicted molecules and showed that they were indeed potential anti-breast cancer compounds in animal systems. 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and tamoxifen is the preferred drug for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer treatment. Many of these cancers are intrinsically resistant to tamoxifen or acquire resistance during treatment. Consequently, there is an ongoing need for breast cancer drugs that have different molecular targets. 

Previous work by the Albany Medical College researchers had shown that 8-mer and cyclic 9-mer peptides inhibit breast cancer in mouse and rat models, interacting with an unsolved receptor, while peptides smaller than eight amino acids did not. 

The Hamilton researchers used advanced computational methods to predict the structure and dynamics of active peptides, leading to the discovery of smaller peptides with full biological activity. The results were used to identify smaller peptides with the three dimensional structure of the larger peptides. These peptides were synthesized and shown to inhibit estrogen-dependent cell growth in a mouse uterine growth assay, a test showing reliable correlation with human breast cancer inhibition. 

 

SOURCES: 

Journal of the American Chemical Society, May 16, 2007

Hamilton College (http://www.hamilton.edu)