Scientists just found a new therapy for lethal cancer. Cancer is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of disorders defined by the uncontrolled division of aberrant cells. This leads to the subsequent invasion and destruction of normal human tissue. The capacity of cancer to spread throughout the body is common.
The second greatest cause of mortality worldwide is cancer. Cancer screening, therapy and prevention have all improved in recent years. This has resulted in better survival rates for many kinds of the disease.
A small number of people with rectal cancer have recently had their illness disappear after receiving experimental therapy. Patients at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center were given a medicine called dostarlimab for six months as part of a modest clinical study. Every one of their cancers vanished once they completed their clinical study.
Scientists just found a new therapy (ERX-41) for lethal cancer
A new molecule made by Dr. Jung-Mo Ahn, a researcher at the University of Texas at Dallas, has been shown to kill a wide range of hard-to-treat cancers, including triple-negative breast cancer, without hurting healthy cells. He took advantage of a flaw in cells that previous medications had failed to target.
The work was published in the journal Nature Cancer after it was carried out on both human cancer tissue and human tumors generated in mice. Patients with triple-negative breast cancer have limited treatment choices.
Dr. Ahn, who is an associate professor at UT Dallas’ School of Natural Sciences and Maths, has been studying tiny compounds that target protein-protein interactions in cells for more than a decade. Prior to this, he had worked on chemicals for treatment-resistant breast and prostate cancer.
A novel chemical named ERX-41 produced by Ahn and his colleagues was tested on breast cancer cells with estrogen receptors (ERs) and those without.
There are only a few therapy options available for people with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), while ER-positive breast cancer patients have access to successful medicines.
It does not have receptors for estrogen, progesterone, or human epidermal growth factor 2. TNBC is more common in younger women and has a worse survival rate than other breast cancers.
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The ERX-41 chemical
According to Ahn, the ERX-41 chemical did not harm healthy cells but did destroy tumor cells, independent of whether or not the cancer cells were estrogen-receptor-positive. “Actually, it was better at killing triple-negative breast cancer cells than ER-positive breast cancer cells.
“We were puzzled at the moment. Although we knew it had to be targeting something else in the TNBC cells, we didn’t know what.
In healthy mice, there were no side effects. A biological protein called LIPA (lysosomal acid lipase A) was revealed to be a target for ERX-41. The endoplasmic reticulum is a cell structure that processes and folds proteins. LIPA is present here.
According to Ahn, tumor cells must manufacture a large number of proteins in order to develop rapidly, which puts stress on the endoplasmic reticulum.
“Cancer cells create LIPA at an abnormally high rate compared to healthy cells. The endoplasmic reticulum becomes swollen as a result of ERX-41 binding to LIPA, resulting in cell death.”
ERX-41 Has no Side Effects on Healthy Mice
The chemical was tested on healthy mice and had no adverse effects. “After years of research, we were finally able to identify the protein that was being damaged by ERX-41. Getting there was the most difficult thing. Despite seeing several dead ends, we persisted “says Ahn.
“This kind of cancer is especially pernicious because it attacks women at an early age, is aggressive, and is resistant to therapy; it is called triple-negative breast cancer. Thank goodness we’ve found something that has the potential to help these folks,” says Ahn.
The worst kinds of cancer can be beaten. As a result of this treatment, the tumors in the mice with human-like cancers were reduced. Cancer cells found in human tissue taken from people whose tumors had been removed were also killed by the chemical.
There is more to come. They discovered that ERX-41 is effective against additional cancer types with high endoplasmic reticulum stress, such as the difficult-to-treat pancreatic and ovarian malignancies and glioblastoma, the most “aggressive and deadly primary brain tumor”.
Collaborators included co-authors Dr. Ratna Vadlamudi and Dr. Ganesh Raj, both of whom are professors at UT Southwestern Medical Center and at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, respectively, in the study of ERX-41’s mechanism of action. Dr. Tae-Kyung Lee, an ex-UTD researcher who used to work in Ahn’s Bio-Organic/Medicinal Chemistry Lab, also made the molecule.
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Owners of ERX-41
The Dallas-based firm EtiraRX, which Ahn, Raj, and Vadlamudi co-founded in 2018 and are co-owners of many patents on ERX-41 and related substances, has leased these rights to Ahn, who is also a co-owner.
Clinical studies of ERX-41 are expected to start in the first quarter of 2023. These studies could lead to new and useful medicines.
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