COLUMBIA, 3/10/11 (Beat Byte) -- A new drug meant to control cholesterol -- a major factor in heart disease -- could also kill breast cancer cells, say Mizzou researchers.
A small molecule called Ro 48-8071 developed for controlling cholesterol production "dramatically destroys" human breast cancer cells, says Salman Hyder, the Zalk Endowed Professor in Tumor Angiogenesis and professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center.
Discovered almost accidentally as Hyder's research team was studying another compound -- PRIMA-1, a drug that targets a mutated gene in breast cancer cells -- the revelation could lead to safer and better cancer treatments.
PRIMA-1 binds to a protein called oxidosqualene cyclase (OSC), important in cholesterol synthesis. Its dual capabilities led fellow researcher, MU assistant physics professor Xiaoquin Zou, to investigate whether Ro 48-8071 could also kill breast tumor cells.
"We had been working with PRIMA-1 for some time, and what we didn’t quite understand is exactly how it killed tumor cells," Hyder said. "With the current findings, we think it’s possible that one mechanism utilized by PRIMA-1 to kill cancer cells may include shutting down cholesterol synthesis, but we still don’t know for certain if that’s the case.
"What we do know is that Ro 48-8071 does stop cholesterol synthesis, and it proved to be just as effective in destroying cancer cells as PRIMA-1, without harming other normal breast cells, which is a big advantage."
The study results appeard in the February Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling.