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Napier University researchers discover ground-breaking cancer treatments

BTG : 15 May, 2000  (Company News)
A research group led by an Edinburgh scientist has discovered potential new treatments for certain types of cancer both significantly more effective than current chemotherapeutic treatments and with fewer side effects.
Dr David Mincher and a team of researchers with in Napier University's Anti-Cancer Drug Design and Delivery Research Group have produced a series of novel anti-cancer compounds able to dramatically shrink colon tumours, and which may be applicable to solid tumours of the breast, lung and ovary.

The compound work by `persuading' a cancer cell to `commit suicide', a mechanism found to be highly effective in shrinking solid tumours. Due to the `clean' mechanism of cell-kill, the number and intensity of side effects are likely to be less than those normally associated with chemotherapy.

Dr Mincher, a lecturer within Napier University's Department of Applied Chemical and Physical Science, today said: 'This is a very exciting area of research and we are optimistic about what these new developments may mean in terms of potential new treatments for certain types of cancer.'

Key results from the research work will be presented today (Monday) at the British Association for Cancer Research International Conference, when the Napier University team will reveal dramatic ability of the new compounds to shrink experimental colon tumours, as shown by a comparative study with drugs currently in use.

The findings detail how the new compounds work by targeting vital cellular enzymes known as topoisomerases, essential to the replication process of tumour cells, allowing the nuclear DNA to replicate. Two types of enzyme (Topo I and Topo II) are important in the cellular replication process. The new drugs work by forming stable complexes with each type of enzyme when bound to the DNA within a cell. These complexes are significantly stable enough to allow the cellular destruction processes (normally switched off by the cancer cells) to be activated and promote the self-destruction of the cancer cell.

Research into the new treatments has been carried out by Napier University in collaboration with the Clinical Oncology Unit of the University of Bradford and development work is continuing in order to assess the full spectrum of possible usage for the new drugs in cancer treatment.

The technology underpinning the drugs has been kept confidential until recently when patents were granted in the US, Europe and other parts of the world. BTG is responsible for the worldwide patenting strategy and is now seeking to licence it with an appropriate pharmaceutical company.
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