March 15, 2012

Reducing Chemo-Side Effects

(Ivanhoe Newswire)-- Chemotherapy has helped many individuals overcome cancer but it has also caused many other health side effects in the process. Now, researchers may have found a key to stop it.

The structure of a specific molecule that can carry chemotherapy and anti-viral drugs into cells was explored by Duke University researchers and explained.

With this information researchers have found a key to help create more effective drugs with fewer effects to healthy tissue for chemo patients.

"Knowing the structure and properties of a transporter molecule may be the key to changing the way that some chemotherapies, for example, could work in the body to prevent tumor growth," senior author Seok-Yong Lee Ph.D., was quoted as saying.

The transporter molecule, called a concentrative nucleoside transporter, functions by relocating nucleosides from the outside to the inside of cells. It is also responsible for transporting nucleoside-like chemo drugs through cell membranes. Once inside the cells, the nucleoside-like drugs are modified into nucleotides that are incorporated into DNA in ways that prevent tumor cells from separating and functioning.

"We discover the structure of the transporter molecule, and now we believe it is possible to improve nucleoside drugs to be better recognized by a particular form of the transport molecule that resides in certain types of tissue," Lee was quoted as saying. "Now we know the transporter molecule has three forms, which recognize different drugs and reside in different tissues."

The team determined the chemical and physical principles a transporter molecule uses to recognize the nucleosides," so if you can improve the interactions between the transporter and the drug, you won't need as much of the drug to get it into that tumor cells efficiently," Lee sad. "Knowing the shape of the transporters will let scientists design drugs that are recognized well by this transporter."

Because the drugs enter healthy cells as well as the tumor cells, giving a reduced dose of drugs that targets tumor tissue would be the best scenario, said Lee. "Healthy cells don't divide as often as tumor cells, so lowering the amount of drug given overall would be an effective approach to killing tumors while protecting patients."

SOURCE: Nature Online, March 11, 2012