Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nobel Laureate Creates Potent Anticancer Weapons

Date:
April 14, 2000
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Two anticancer drugs, each estimated to be at least 100 times more powerful than the potent anticancer medication Taxol®, have been synthesized by a renowned Harvard University chemist. The findings are reported in the current (April 6) print edition of Organic Letters, published by the American Chemical Society.

Synthesizes new drugs more powerful than Taxol®

Related Articles


Two anticancer drugs, each estimated to be at least 100 times more powerful than the potent anticancer medication Taxol®, have been synthesized by a renowned Harvard University chemist. The findings are reported in the current (April 6) print edition of Organic Letters, published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Elias J. Corey, Ph.D., winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize for chemistry, has developed a new and better way to make ecteinascidin (pronounced ek-TIN-aside-in), a drug first produced in 1996 but little used until now because it is so difficult to make. The new method should speed and simplify mass production of the antitumor substance, potentially making the drug more available to patients suffering from soft-tissue sarcomas like cancers of the muscles, tendons and blood vessels. Ecteinascidin is likely the most complicated molecule ever to be made on a commercial scale, according to Corey.

He referred to the compound as "approximately two orders of magnitude stronger (than Taxol®) in inhibiting tumor cell growth. This is another example of how synthetic chemistry contributes to medicine." (Paclitaxel, known commercially as Taxol®, is used to treat ovarian and breast cancers, and has shown promising results in studies using it to treat Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and polycystic kidney disease, among others.)

Ecteinascidin and a simpler, easier to make form called phthalascidin (pronounced THAL-aside-in), act differently than Taxol® and every other cancer cell treatment. They have a unique molecular interaction with DNA and with a currently unknown protein associated with the DNA, Corey said. Laboratory studies, combined with research conducted on ecteinascidin through the National Institutes of Health, have found the drug prevents tumor cell division without killing off the cells, unlike chemotherapy.

Ecteinascidin is currently undergoing phase two human testing at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The human trials are expected to finish by the end of the year 2000 and phase three testing will begin soon after. Phthalascidin is equally effective clinically, and more stable, but has not yet begun human trials.

The manufacturer that owns the rights to the drug, Pharma Mar, will seek "fast-track" approval of the medication through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Barring unforeseen complications, the drug could be on the market in 2002.

The natural form of the drug is found in a reef-living animal called Ecteinascidia turbinate, found in the West Indies. It was originally discovered approximately 12 years ago by a former colleague of Corey's from the University of Illinois, an avid diver. After discovering the agent in the finger-shaped appendages of the tiny animal, the colleague called it the most powerful anti-cancer drug he had ever seen. Previous attempts at chemically creating sufficient amounts of the substance failed, however.

Because synthetic ecteinascidin and phthalascidin are so strong, as little as 14 milligrams (mg) can last a patient up to six months. At the current dosage during the trial phase, patients are injected with 1.5 mg a week for three weeks. At that rate, approximately five kilograms, or 11 pounds, of the drug could supply the world demand for an entire year, Corey estimated.

"It's especially effective against soft-tissue sarcoma," Corey said. "There hasn't been effective chemotherapy for sarcoma. That's been the most striking result so far."

Reporting the results after two years of testing, research and study, Corey and graduate student Eduardo Martinez created more than 100 other derivatives of the drug, none more powerful than the two synthesized molecules.

"I love to discover new chemistry and to develop syntheses of new medically useful compounds," Corey said. "This type of research is driven by the great power of modern chemistry. I hope that ecteinascidin and phthalascidin will be useful as life-saving drugs, but it will be another five years before we know for certain."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Nobel Laureate Creates Potent Anticancer Weapons." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 April 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000410084213.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2000, April 14). Nobel Laureate Creates Potent Anticancer Weapons. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000410084213.htm
American Chemical Society. "Nobel Laureate Creates Potent Anticancer Weapons." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000410084213.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins