New drugs will activate cancer blocking gene

August 29th, 2008 - 12:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Aug 29 (IANS) Researchers are working on drugs that could activate a gene known to block the growth of cancerous cells. Led by Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR) director Peter Klinken, they have screened a large collection of drug-like molecules and also identified a number of compounds which can increase levels of the Hls5 gene, ScienceAlert reported Friday.

“Because of the role Hls5 plays in keeping cell growth at a normal rate, we expect that these compounds will greatly slow down the growth of cancer cells. This discovery is very encouraging and a great step forward in our quest to create new cancer treatments,” said Klinken.

The Hls5 tumour suppressor gene was reported by Klinken’s team in 2004.

The group’s research has revealed that people who don’t have the gene - or those who have a mutated or inactive form of the gene - are more likely to develop certain types of cancer.

The WAIMR team has spent more than a year screening 70,000 compounds which increase Hls5 levels.

“Our preliminary data reveals that several of these compounds do indeed markedly slow down the growth of human cancer cells,” said Klinken.

“Importantly, we also know through computer modelling that nearly all of these compounds have drug-like qualities.”

“From here, we take the research to the next phase of laboratory testing with the ultimate hope of investigating if one of these molecules can be used to create a fresh treatment that can slow growth of cancer cells in patients.”

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