A chemical called candidaspongiolide (CAN) inhibits protein synthesis but also kills cancer cells by triggering caspase 12-dependent programmed cell death, according to an article in the Aug. 26 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Previous reports showed that CAN preferentially killed glioma and melanoma cells in vitro, but its mechanism of action was unknown.
In the current study, Giovanni Melillo, M.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Md., and colleagues used molecular and cell assays to uncover the mechanism by which CAN kills cancer cells in vitro.
CAN halts protein synthesis in both normal and cancer cells but does not kill normal cells at dosages that trigger cell death in the malignant cells. CAN induces cell death by activating caspase 12 by an unusual biochemical pathway.
The investigators conclude that further tests with CAN are warranted in vitro and in animal models.
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