Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Energy Blocker May Be Potential Liver Cancer Treatment

Date:
July 15, 2002
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
A team of Johns Hopkins researchers has identified and successfully tested in animals a potential new treatment for liver cancer, a disease for which there are few effective treatments. Writing in the July 15 issue of Cancer Research, the scientists report that only cancer cells were killed when the compound, 3-bromopyruvate, was given to rabbits with experimental liver tumors.

A team of Johns Hopkins researchers has identified and successfully tested in animals a potential new treatment for liver cancer, a disease for which there are few effective treatments. Writing in the July 15 issue of Cancer Research, the scientists report that only cancer cells were killed when the compound, 3-bromopyruvate, was given to rabbits with experimental liver tumors.

"It's very exciting because we expected the compound to be pretty toxic, but somehow normal cells in the rabbit protect themselves against it," says Peter Pedersen, Ph.D., professor of biological chemistry who has spent two decades studying energy production in cells and how it relates to cancer growth. "We even injected it into a vein so it was distributed throughout the rabbit, and we still didn't see any apparent toxicity. It's sort of amazing."

A single injection of the compound directly into the artery that feeds the tumor killed a lot of the cancer cells, but left healthy liver alone. The researchers compared 3-bromopyruvate to a currently used treatment for human liver cancer, called chemoembolization, which delivers a dose of chemotherapy to the tumor and also blocks off the artery that feeds it.

"With 3-bromopyruvate in the rabbits, healthy liver seems to be spared, but sections of healthy liver were damaged by chemoembolization," says first author Jeff Geschwind, M.D., associate professor of radiology and director of interventional radiology. "The difference was quite dramatic."

Pedersen cautions that before 3-bromopyruvate could be tested in humans, scientists would need to learn how normal cells protect themselves, whether the compound causes long-term damage to normal tissues, and how increasing the dose affects the animals.

"We assume some level of the compound would be toxic," adds Pedersen. "Any drug can be toxic, it's a matter of determining the limits."

Some 16,600 new cases of primary liver cancer are expected this year in the United States, but tumors that spread to the liver from elsewhere (so-called metastatic tumors) frequently hasten death from other, more prevalent types of cancer, such as skin, colon, breast and prostate cancers. If laboratory tests with other cancer cell types are promising, the compound might be useful for treating any tumor in the liver, not just ones originating there, the researchers say.

Two years ago, frustrated because most patients die within six months, Geschwind approached Pedersen with the idea of finding a new way to treat liver cancer. The plan: Identify potential new drugs and use intra-arterial delivery, a procedure with which Geschwind has considerable expertise, to get them directly into the tumor.

The timing was right, because Pedersen had learned enough about the role of energy production in liver cancer over the previous two decades to warrant looking for a possible new drug. Biological chemist Young Ko, Ph.D., now an assistant professor of radiology, tested a dozen or so possible energy-blocking molecules in the lab to find ones that could kill liver cancer cells.

In 2001, the team reported that already-available 3-bromopyruvate was head and shoulders above the rest, in part because it blocks both ways cells make energy (in the form of a molecule called ATP). "3-Bromopyruvate looks like a chemical found in our own body," says Ko, who used 3-bromopyruvate in her graduate work years ago. "It shows a possible drug doesn't have to be fancy or expensive; this is just as simple and as good as can be."

Building on those laboratory studies, the researchers now have tested the compound's effects in an animal model of liver cancer. Team member and pathologist Michael Torbenson, M.D., saw damage only to the tumor when he examined the tumor, liver, and other possibly affected organs from the rabbits. The researchers don't understand how normal cells resist the compound's effects, but cancer cells' greater use of glucose to make energy may play a role.

In another experiment, the researchers discovered that small tumors in the lungs, buds from the original tumor in the liver, weren't affected by arterial delivery of 3-bromopyruvate, but were substantially reduced by intravenous injection.

"It might be logical to treat tumors in the liver by direct intra-arterial injection, and then use an intravenous injection to kill cancer cells that have spread," suggests Pedersen, "but knowing whether this is so is still a long way off."

Another author is Carolyn Magee of the Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The research was funded in part by the National Cancer Institute and a Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology Research Foundation grant. Geschwind was an American Roentgen Ray Society Scholar and is a Johns Hopkins Gatewood Fellow, a funding program through the Department of Radiology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Energy Blocker May Be Potential Liver Cancer Treatment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 July 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020715074624.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (2002, July 15). Energy Blocker May Be Potential Liver Cancer Treatment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020715074624.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Energy Blocker May Be Potential Liver Cancer Treatment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020715074624.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Uganda on Alert for Ebola but No Confirmed Cases

Uganda on Alert for Ebola but No Confirmed Cases

AFP (July 31, 2014) Uganda's health minister said on Thursday that there are no confirmed cases of Ebola in the country, but that it remained on alert for cases of the deadly virus. Uganda has suffered Ebola outbreaks in the past, most recently in 2012. Duration: 00:59 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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