Molecular Treatment Strategy May Kill Lung Cancer Cells

Protein that helps cancer cells avoid death offers promising target.

Protein that helps cancer cells avoid death offers promising target.

A novel strategy for the treatment of cancer seeks to kill cells at the molecular level.

A study published in the journal Cancer Cell by researchers at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute evaluated a strategy that takes advantage of apoptosis to treat lung cancer. The study evaluated the protein Bcl-2, which offers a treatment target as it allows cancer cells to survive by avoiding apoptosis.

"Discovery of the Bcl2 BH4 antagonist as the way to promote cancer cell death may provide a new weapon against lung cancer," lead study author Xingming Deng, MD, PhD, said in a press release.

The researchers found a completely new class of compounds that bind to the BH4 domain of the Bcl-2 protein to inhibit function. The ability of a drug that potentially binds to the protein allows Bcl-2 to change from a function that offers a survival advantage to cancer cells to a function that promotes cancer cell death.

While the study primarily evaluated lung cancer models, the treatment approach may be applicable to other types of cancer.

"This potential drug identified by Dr. Deng and our Winship team may accelerate our success against lung and other cancers. We are now testing this molecule further in preparation for future testing among eligible patients," co-author Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, said in a press release.