Acid-seeking 'warheads' promise safer, more effective cancer weapons

Feb 25, 2008

Researchers in California report development of an anti-cancer “warhead” that targets the acidic signature of tumor cells in much the same way that heat-seeking missiles seek and destroy military targets that emit heat. These acid-seeking substances are not toxic to healthy cells, and represent a new class of potentially safer, more effective anti-cancer drugs, they say. Their study is scheduled for the March 6 issue of ACS’ The Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

For years, scientists tried to develop anti-cancer drugs based on enediynes, a powerful class of natural, tumor-fighting agents derived from soil bacteria. However, as these substances kill both cancerous and healthy cells, their effectiveness as anti-cancer drugs is limited.

In the new study, Elfi Kraka and colleagues describe making unusual substances that become highly active only in the presence of low pH levels, or acidic environments. Since cancer cells have highly acidic environments in comparison to normal cells, compounds containing these substances — called dynemicin-amidines (DADs) — target and destroy tumor cells without affecting healthy cells, the researchers say. The substances represent “the design of the first nontoxic enediyne antitumor drugs based on the DAD principle,” the report states.

Source: American Chemical Society

Explore further: Chemists' synthesis of silicon oxides opens 'new world in a grain of sand'

Related Stories

Genetic road map may bring about better cotton crops

49 minutes ago

A University of Texas at Austin scientist, working with an international research team, has developed the most precise sequence map yet of U.S. cotton and will soon create an even more detailed map for navigating ...

Recommended for you

Dead feeder cells support stem cell growth

11 hours ago

Stem cells naturally cling to feeder cells as they grow in petri dishes. Scientists have thought for years that this attachment occurs because feeder cells serve as a support system, providing stems cells ...

User comments : 0

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.