Karolinska Institute develops new type of anticancer drug

Novel molecule effectively causes tumour cells to poison themselves

The prestigious Swedish research centre the Karolinska Institute has identified a novel anticancer drug that fights tumours by effectively making them poison themselves.

The medicine targets the tendency of growing tumours to produce defective proteins. These are usually broken down by proteasomes, cell waste disposal units. But the new drug uses a molecule called b-AP15 to prevent these proteasomes from working, and hence the tumour cells, riddled with defective proteins, die via apoptosis.

‘This newly discovered mechanism of action is very promising,’ said Stig Linder, professor of experimental oncology at Karolinska’s department of oncology and pathology. Although he stressed his colleagues could not yet treat patients with medicines using the molecule, ‘we hope that our continuing work will eventually lead to the development of new drugs’.

His institute has been working with Sweden’s Uppsala University and the Istituto Nazionale per Studio e Cura dei Tumori, in Milan, Italy, on the project.

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