A virologist at Stanford University, Jeffery Glenn said that that lessons learned during fighting with the virus and developing antiviral treatments have led the development of the effective drug appeared to be effective in the treatment of cancer in mice.
Glenn shared that the underlying idea is the disruption of a normal cellular process on which both viruses and some of the cancerous cells rely on growth and spread. Recently experimental tests in mice demonstrate that the drugs based on this idea shrink tumors and also prevent the spread of tumors.
Scientists from Stanford, Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas and the University of California published their findings in the journal, “Science Translational Medicine“.
Professor of medicine and immunology and microbiology, Glenn said that the development of this new drug couldn’t be possible without the collaborations and series of events. Glenn’s lab developed various compounds with the help of Standford ChEM-H’s Medicinal Chemistry Knowledge Centre and with the support of ViRx@Stanford that is an NIH –sponsored Centre of Excellence for Translational Research.
Originally, when Glenn and his colleagues were finding ways to stop viruses, they thought to try kind of end round and try targeting cell functions that are hijacked by the viruses for replication and further spread. So, even if the virus infects, that’s more or less will be the end of it.
This approach worked. Glenn and his team in 2015 at the National Institutes of Health demonstrated that this approach prevented delta virus (hepatitis D) from replication and releasing new virus copies in patients. They further modified their strategy for attacking enterovirus 71 which causes FMD and also causes deadly polio-like symptoms such as paralysis in children.
Researchers continued the development of antiviral drugs but then their aim changed when their antiviral work got the attention of a professor of oncology, Jonathan Kurie at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Kurie realized that the same cellular processes were involved in metastasis. After studying the details of the earliest compounds developed by Glenn and his team, Kurie asked Glenn for some of his drugs.
The team demonstrates that their hunch was right; the same drugs which Glenn and his team were making for the treatment of enterovirus can also be used for the treatment of certain types of cancer at least in mice and human cancerous cells.
In a study conducted on mice, the team tested a drug reduced that how often the human cancer cells implanted in one lung of mice can spread to the second lung. With another different compound, there were zero detectable metastases. Both drugs reduced the size of the tumor in the first lung. Human breast cancers which were implanted in mice and growing in mice also got shrink within one week of treatment.
Glenn shared that the success of his team is because of the significant shift in their lab experiments and building on an infectious brew of different researchers who belong to different academic disciplines.
Glenn said that with the help of chemists in the lab with the virologists, biologists, and physicians, they were able to create a unique group which was never existed before. The diversity allowed this unique development.
The team is working on new ways for the application of their drugs like in combination with already existing therapies for making them better against tumors that are drug-resistant and are susceptible to this new approach.