Compound used to block cholesterol could also kill breast cancer, researcher finds

February 22, 2011

A University of Missouri researcher believes there could be a new drug compound that could kill breast cancer cells. The compound might also help with controlling cholesterol.

Salman Hyder, the Zalk Endowed Professor in and professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, and his research team discovered that a small molecule, Ro 48-8071, initially developed for controlling cholesterol synthesis "dramatically destroys" human . This development was discovered as Hyder's research team was investigating PRIMA-1, a drug that targets a common mutated gene in human breast cancer cells, and kills tumor cells.

During the course of the study, Xiaoquin Zou, an assistant professor in the MU Department of Physics and Astronomy, compared the chemistry of PRIMA-1 binding to thousands of proteins using a software program she developed called MDock. Hyder and Zou found that PRIMA-1 showed excellent binding properties to a protein called oxidosqualene cyclase, (OSC) that is known to be important for producing cholesterol. This led Hyder's team to investigate whether known OSC inhibitors, such as Ro 48-8071, developed to stop cholesterol production, also killed breast cancer cells.

"We had been working with PRIMA-1 for some time, and what we didn't quite understand is exactly how it killed ," 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 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 , 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."

While there are still many studies to complete, including testing on humans, Hyder believes there are great possibilities in using Ro 48-8071 as a treatment for breast cancer. Hyder gives equal credit to MU colleagues Xiaoqin Zou, Sam Grinter, graduate student in physics; Yayun Liang, assistant professor and Dalton researcher and Sheng-You Huang, research associate.

"This is a good example of interdisciplinary research, where colleagues with different expertise collaborated to find targets and verify their use for therapy. We couldn't have achieved this finding with each of us working on our own," Hyder said.

Explore further: Getting to the roots of breast cancer

More information: The study results are published in an article "An inverse docking approach for identifying new potential anti-cancer targets" in the February Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling.

Related Stories

Getting to the roots of breast cancer

April 29, 2008

The lesson learned in eradicating dandelions from your yard could apply in treating breast cancer as well, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston in a report that appears online today in the Journal of ...

Recommended for you

Scientists overcome key CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing hurdle

December 1, 2015

Researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT have engineered changes to the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing system that significantly cut down on "off-target" ...

Study finds 'rudimentary' empathy in macaques

December 1, 2015

(—A pair of researchers with Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Université Lyon, in France has conducted a study that has shown that macaques have at least some degree of empathy towards their fellow ...

Which came first—the sponge or the comb jelly?

December 1, 2015

Bristol study reaffirms classical view of early animal evolution. Whether sponges or comb jellies (also known as sea gooseberries) represent the oldest extant animal phylum is of crucial importance to our understanding of ...

Trap-jaw ants exhibit previously unseen jumping behavior

December 1, 2015

A species of trap-jaw ant has been found to exhibit a previously unseen jumping behavior, using its legs rather than its powerful jaws. The discovery makes this species, Odontomachus rixosus, the only species of ant that ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.