Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

1930s Drug Slows Tumor Growth: Gonorrhea Medication Might Help Fight Cancer

Date:
November 7, 2009
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
Drugs sometimes have beneficial side effects. A glaucoma treatment causes luscious eyelashes. A blood pressure drug also aids those with a rare genetic disease. The newest surprise discovered by researchers is a gonorrhea medication that might help battle cancer.

Drugs sometimes have beneficial side effects. A glaucoma treatment causes luscious eyelashes. A blood pressure drug also aids those with a rare genetic disease. The newest surprise discovered by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is a gonorrhea medication that might help battle cancer.

Related Articles


"Often times we are surprised that a drug known to do something else has another hidden property," says Jun Liu, Ph.D., a professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins and author on the study published Oct. 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In this case, the surprise is a big one. The drug, acriflavine, used in the 1930s for treating gonorrhea, has turned out to have the previously unknown ability to halt the growth of new blood vessels. Preliminary tests showed that mice engineered to develop cancer had no tumor growth if treated with daily injections of acriflavine.

"As cancer cells rapidly divide, they consume considerable amounts of oxygen," says Gregg Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., the C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Pediatrics and director of the vascular program at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering. "To continue growing, a tumor must create new blood vessels to deliver oxygen to the tumor cells."

Acriflavine stops blood vessel growth by inhibiting the function of the protein hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1, which was discovered by Semenza's team in 1992. When HIF-1 senses that the surrounding environment is low in oxygen, it turns on genes necessary for building new vessels. Though essential for normal tissue growth and wound healing, HIF-1 is also turned on by cancers to obtain the oxygen they need to survive. Most importantly, in order for HIF-1 to work, two subunits must bind together like puzzle pieces.

Most drugs are unable to prevent protein binding because the drug molecules can be much smaller than the proteins they interact with. A medicine must hit just the right spot, a critical domain or pocket on the surface of one protein to stop it from binding to another protein. Even though drugs that stop binding are uncommon, they are such an effective means to stop protein function that Semenza decided to look for one that might block HIF-1. To do that, he turned to the Johns Hopkins Drug Library, a collection of FDA- and internationally approved compounds in that was assembled by Liu.

To visualize protein binding, scientists engineered a cell line so that when the HIF-1 subunits came together, they would cause the cell to light up like a firefly. They then tested each of the more than 3,000 drugs in the drug library in hopes of finding one that would turn out the light. Acriflavine did, andfurther studies confirmed that it was binding directly to HIF-1.

"Mechanistically, this is the first drug of its kind," says Liu. "It is acting in a way that is never seen for this family of proteins."

Liu hopes that acriflavine can one day be incorporated into chemotherapy cocktails, one drug among many that help fight cancer.

Hopkins is seeking even more new uses for old drugs. So far, drugs in the library have been screened for use against malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and the Ebola virus. In the future, Liu expects even more researchers to take advantage of the library, which is continuing to grow as more drugs are added to the collection.

"In the public domain, Hopkins has the largest drug library," says Liu. "The more drugs you have, the more possibilities, the higher the chance you rediscover something that will help."

This study was funded by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and the Foundation for Advanced Research in the Medical Sciences.

Authors on the paper are KangAe Lee, now of Princeton University, Huafeng Zhang, David Z. Qian, Sergio Rey, Liu and Semenza, all of Johns Hopkins.


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. "1930s Drug Slows Tumor Growth: Gonorrhea Medication Might Help Fight Cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091106095644.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (2009, November 7). 1930s Drug Slows Tumor Growth: Gonorrhea Medication Might Help Fight Cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091106095644.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "1930s Drug Slows Tumor Growth: Gonorrhea Medication Might Help Fight Cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091106095644.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 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:

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