Friday, March 7, 2008


It has not exactly been the medical equivalent of the hunt for the holy grail, but scientists have for long been looking for a drug that kills cancer cells and spares healthy ones. And the goal appears within sight.

People get cancer because a protein called p53- which is supposed to suppress tumors- is not doing its job. About half the time, this is because the gene that holds the protein is mutated or missing.

Beut the rest of the time, another protein, called the human MDM2, is the culprit. It binds to p53 and inhibits its tumor suppressor function, promoting cancer development.

For over a decade, scientists have been searching for ways to block the inhibition of the p53 protein- but in vain.

Now, US researchers at the University of Michigan say they have designed a small molecule, called MI-219 completely inhibited tumor growth and appeared to cause no toxicity to animals.

If clinical trials bear these results, the drug, could potentially treat many different types of cancer, say the authors of the study published.

The MI-219 also offers the advantage of being capable of development as an oral pill, rather than traditional chemotherapy that must be given intravenously.

However, the researchers cautioned that MI-219 needs to be evaluated in human clinical trials for safety and efficacy for cancer treatment since it is a brand new drug.

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