Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pine bark substance could be potent melanoma drug

Date:
May 20, 2014
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
A substance that comes from pine bark is a potential source for a new treatment of melanoma, according to researchers. Current melanoma drugs targeting single proteins can initially be effective, but resistance develops relatively quickly and the disease recurs. In those instances, resistance usually develops when the cancer cell's circuitry bypasses the protein that the drug acts on, or when the cell uses other pathways to avoid the point on which the drug acts.

A researcher at Penn State Hershey purifies leelamine.
Credit: Image courtesy of Penn State

A substance that comes from pine bark is a potential source for a new treatment of melanoma, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.

Current melanoma drugs targeting single proteins can initially be effective, but resistance develops relatively quickly and the disease recurs. In those instances, resistance usually develops when the cancer cell's circuitry bypasses the protein that the drug acts on, or when the cell uses other pathways to avoid the point on which the drug acts.

"To a cancer cell, resistance is like a traffic problem in its circuitry," said Gavin Robertson, professor of pharmacology, pathology, dermatology, and surgery and director of the Penn State Hershey Melanoma Center. "Cancer cells see treatment with a single drug as a road closure and use a detour or other roads to bypass the closure."

Penn State researchers may have solved this problem by identifying a drug that simultaneously creates many road closures.

The researchers screened 480 natural compounds and identified leelamine, derived from the bark of pine trees, as a drug that can cause this major traffic jam in the cancer cell's circuitry.

"Natural products can be a source of effective cancer drugs, and several are being used for treating a variety of cancers," said Robertson. "Over 60 percent of anti-cancer agents are derived from plants, animals, marine sources or microorganisms. However, leelamine is unique in the way that it acts."

Leelamine could be the first of a new unique class of drugs that will simultaneously target several protein pathways. Researchers found that this drug shuts down multiple protein pathways, such as PI3K, MAPK and STAT3, at the same time in melanoma cells. Thpse pathways are involved in the development of up to 70 percent of melanomas. Protein pathways like these help cancer cells multiply and spread, so shutting them down helps kill the cells.

"The cancer cell is addicted to these pathways," Robertson said. "And when they are shut down, the bypass routes cannot be used. The result is the cancer cells die."

Leelamine works by shutting down cholesterol transport and its movement around the cancer cell. By shutting down cholesterol transport and movement, the exceptionally active survival communication that cancer cells require is shut down. The end result is death of the cancer cell. Since normal cells are not addicted to the same high levels of activity in these pathways, the drug has a negligible effect on them.

"The cholesterol in a cancer cell is not like the cholesterol in our blood that causes heart disease," said Robertson. "The cancer cells need it for the high protein pathway activity and it cannot be shut down by statins, like Lipitor, that lower serum cholesterol."

The researchers showed the results of this unique drug on cells growing in culture dishes and in tumors growing in mice. Leelamine inhibited tumor development in mice with no detectable side effects.

Researchers report their results in two back-to-back articles in a recent issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

Leelamine is the first of a new class of potentially viable drugs for the treatment of melanoma. More research must be completed before it can be tested in humans. Penn State has a patent for this discovery and has licensed it to Melanovus Oncology for the next series of experiments to enable it to be tested in humans. Melanovus Oncology is partly owned by Penn State and Robertson.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. The original article was written by Matthew Solovey. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. R. Gowda, S. V. Madhanupantula, O. F. Kuzu, A. Sharma, G. P. Robertson. Targeting Multiple Key Signaling Pathways in Melanoma using Leelamine. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, 2014; DOI: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-13-0867
  2. O. F. Kuzu, R. Gowda, A. Sharma, G. P. Robertson. Leelamine mediates cancer cell death through inhibition of intracellular cholesterol transport. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, 2014; DOI: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-13-0868

Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Pine bark substance could be potent melanoma drug." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520120041.htm>.
Penn State. (2014, May 20). Pine bark substance could be potent melanoma drug. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520120041.htm
Penn State. "Pine bark substance could be potent melanoma drug." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520120041.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, cut full-year revenue forecasts because generics could cut into sales of its anti-arthritis drug, Celebrex. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
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