Researchers from the Broad Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University have solved the mystery of a molecule that could lead to new treatments for cancer,media reported. Recently, the team discovered how a strange molecule kills cancer by inducing a little-known cell to die, and they have found other molecules that may be more effective.
Ferroptosis is a newly discovered form of cell death in which the toxic molecule lipid peroxide accumulates within cells. But a protein called GPX4 can prevent this by converting them into safer compounds. But before that, researchers were curious to find out whether drugs that could turn off GPX4 would be an effective anti-cancer method.
A few years later, scientists discovered such a molecule. The molecule, called ML210, binds to GPX4 and triggers iron death, but its finders aren’t sure how it’s done because ML210 is an unusually smooth molecule and there is no clear way to form the desired keys.
But now researchers at the Broad Institute say they have found the answer. After further chemical analysis, the team found that once inside the cell, ML210 actually underwent a two-step transformation. First it becomes a compound — JKE-1674, then it becomes another molecule — JKE-1777, and the last form binds GPX4.
In these three forms, the researchers found that the middle JKE-1674 is the most promising for use in animals and humans, which is stable outside the cell and appears to be only selective in GPX4.
Further tests may suggest that this is the beginning of a new cancer drug that induces iron death. This approach is particularly promising for cancers that are resistant to existing drugs and may also prevent the development of such resistance.
Of course, there is still a long way to go if you want to test it on humans, but it’s a good new approach anyway.
The study was published in Nature Chemical Biology.