Scientists at University of Southern California have discovered a new drug that may be an effective alternative for women with ovarian cancer that is resistant to currently available drugs.
The discovery, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found the drug works in a way that should not only make it effective for untreatable cancers, but also decrease the number of doses patients need to take.
"We need a new generation of drugs," said lead researcher Shili Xu, who tested the new drug on ovarian cancer cells and mice tumors. "We need to overcome the drug-resistance issue."
The drug is one of a new class of cytotoxic agents — known as PACMAs — discovered by testing roughly 10,000 chemical compounds on cancer cells in the lab of Nouri Neamati, professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at the USC School of Pharmacy. Known as PACMA31, the new drug was one of 80 newly designed compounds and found to be very toxic to ovarian cancer cells.
PACMA31 can be taken orally and accumulates in cancer cells, making it less likely to cause harmful side effects in normal tissues.
Currently two major types of drugs are used in treatment of ovarian cancer: paclitaxel and carboplatin. But PACMA31 attacks cancer cells in a different way, compared to the existing chemotherapy agents, which means it has the potential to help patients who do not respond to paclitaxel or cisplatin.
The drug will still require additional testing, but results so far are promising, researchers said. They added that it may also have potential for treating other types of cancer.