A recent research shows that by targeting telomeres with a small molecule called 6-thiodG that take advantage of the cell’s ‘biological clock’ to kill cancer cells and shrink tumor growth, may lead to a new therapy to treat cancer. The findings showed that the molecule stop the growth of cancer.
Jerry Shay, professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in the US said, “We observed broad efficacy against a range of cancer cell lines with very low concentrations of 6-thiodG.” 6-thiodG acts by targeting a unique mechanism that is thought to regulate how long cells can stay alive, a type of aging clock.
As per the study, the biological clock is defined by DNA a structure that is known as telomeres, which cap the ends of the cell’s chromosomes to protect them from damage, and which become shorter every time the cell divides. Once telomeres have shortened to a critical length, the cell can no longer divide and dies though a process known as apoptosis.
However, cancer cells are normally protected from this death by an RNA protein complexcalled telomerase, which ensures that telomeres do not shorten with every division. “Using telomerase to incorporate toxic products into telomeres is remarkably encouraging at this point,” said Dr. Wright.
Regarding the treatment, researchers said that though telomerase is an almost universal oncology target, there are few telomerase-directed therapies in human clinical trials. Also, 6-thiodG can be used to disrupt the normal way cells maintain telomere length.
Meanwhile, an important advantage of the new therapy is that the researchers did not observe serious side effects in the blood, liver and kidneys of the mice that were treated with 6-thiodG. “Since telomerase is expressed in almost all human cancers, this work represents a potentially innovative approach to targeting telomerase-expressing cancer cells with minimal side effects on normal cells,” said Dr. Shay.
He added, “We believe this small molecule will address an unmet cancer need in an underexplored area that will be rapidly applicable to the clinic.”