Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine (California, USA) have identified a new compound that attacks the 'Achilles heel' of the c cells, depriving them of their power source: glucose.

The usual treatment of cancer with chemotherapy usually causes many side effects due mainly to the fact that most of these drugs do not distinguish between cancer cells and healthy ones, attacking both equally. However, the compound discovered by the Stanford researchers acts on a biological phenomenon that only occurs in cancer cells, so it could be useful to fight against the disease causing minimal side effects.

By acting only on cancer cells, this compound could be useful to fight against the disease causing minimal side effects

Amato Giaccia, an expert in radiation oncology and one of the main investigators of this study, affirms that "this work shows an approach to selectively inhibit the ability of cancer cells to take glucose, a very powerful way to kill those cells" .

These scientists focused on studying the most common form of kidney cancer in adult patients, renal cell carcinoma, which accounts for almost 2 percent of all cancers that occur in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disease Prevention (CDC, for its acronym in English).

This disease is resistant to traditional chemotherapy and often the affected kidney has to be removed in these patients. About 90 percent of these cancers have a specific genetic mutation that causes uncontrolled cell growth. "Most of the normal tissues of the body do not have this mutation, so a drug directed against this vulnerable point could be very specific for cancer cells," says Giaccia, a member of the Stanford Cancer Institute.

After examining a library of 64,000 synthetic chemical compounds on tumor cells with that mutation, they looked for signs of cell death. The work, which has been published this month in the specialized magazine 'Science Translational Medicine', resulted in two candidate substances to be anti cancer drugs: one found by Giaccia in 2008, STF-62247, which is now in preclinical trials, and another called STF-31, described in this latest study, which kills cancer cells in a different way.

Combining these two compounds could make a multiple attack or, if a cancer becomes resistant to one of the compounds, there would be another option, says Denise Chan, PhD, a former postdoctoral researcher at Stanford and co-lead author of this work.


Cancer Treatment: IMRT (Radiation Therapy) (November 2019).