New research provides hope that the therapeutic agent SapC-DOPS could be used for treatment of lung cancer as it caused cell death in cancer, while sparing normal cells and tissues, researchers said.
SapC-DOPS consists of a lysosomal protein, saposin C (SapC), and a phospholipid named dioleoylphosphatidylserine (DOPS), which are combined and assembled into tiny cavities, or nanovesicles, to target and kill various forms of cancer cells.
Lysosomes contain enzymes capable of breaking down all types of biological components; phospholipids are major components of all cell membranes and form lipid bilayers, or cell membranes.
A University of Cincinnati (UC) study, published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, said that the therapeutic agent SapC-DOPS could be used for lung cancer, which is the most common and the deadliest type of cancer worldwide, with about 221,000 new cases and an estimated 158,000 deaths in 2015 in the US alone.
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, followed by environmental and occupational exposure to pollutants.
Xiaoyang Qi, a member of the Cincinnati Cancer Center, says these findings indicate that SapC-DOPS shows promise for treatment of one of the deadliest cancers globally. The findings also provide stronger evidence that this agent could be a key treatment for a variety of cancers.
“Standard treatment options for lung cancer, including chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, have undesirable side effects that impact the quality of life of the cancer patient, which is why the targeted use of SapC-DOPS could be so beneficial,” he said.
Qi and collaborators have previously found that the combination of these two natural cellular components, called SapC-DOPS, caused cell death in many cancer cell types including brain, skin, prostate, blood, breast and pancreatic cancer, while sparing normal cells and tissues.
Liposomal formulations provide improved bio-compatibility and targeted delivery, Qi said. Despite promising results, only a few non-targeted liposomal formulations have been approved for cancer treatment by regulatory agencies, he noted.
He said, “Clinical trials are under way to evaluate some of these in lung cancer patients. However, so far, these liposomes have been shown to be less effective when compared with free drug administration, which is why the SapC-DOPS research is promising as a targeted treatment for lung cancer.”
Qi says a distinguishing feature of SapC-DOPS is its ability to bind to phosphatidylseriine (PS), a lipid, which is found on the membrane surfaces of all tumor cells. Animals treated with SapC-DOPS showed clear survival benefits and their tumors shrank or disappeared.
“Our results show that SapC-DOPS could be a promising treatment option for lung cancer worthy of further clinical study.”