New Compounds Starve Rare Blood Cancers

Researchers from the Northwestern University have managed to synthesize new compounds that can starve rare cancers called multiple myeloma.

Cancer cells, including the fatal plasma cell multiple myeloma malignancy, thrive on glucose. This specific cancer exploits the GULT4 protein, a primary glucose transporter in the body, which allows cancer to proliferate. The newly discovered compounds agitate the GLUT4 protein, helping starve the cancer cells of vital sugars.

“Inhibiting a glucose transporter would be a new strategy for attacking multiple myeloma,” says Gary Schiltz. “Our ability to conduct molecular modelling and computational chemistry to support the design and synthesis of these compounds exemplifies the centre’s ability to facilitate the translation of basic scientific discoveries into therapeutic candidates,”

multiple myeloma malignancy

The new compounds were sent for further biological testing to Emory University & Washington University. The resulting data was used to synthesize additional analogues of the compounds in an effort to optimize their ability to target the GLUT4 protein, whilst not affecting others in the GLUT protein family.

“One of the benefits of modelling is that it can be done relatively inexpensively and quickly while making a significant impact,” says Schiltz. “We can quickly generate compounds that act against the target we are interested in, giving us a rapid foothold in the optimization process.”

In the coming years, the researchers will build upon the compound’s potency and begin to evaluate how individual genetics may alter the responsiveness of the drug. “Mala has had terrific success so far in using patient samples to show that the compounds are effective at selectively killing the cancerous cells while sparing healthy ones,” Schiltz says.

“We’ve also determined that the new compound can work in concert with existing therapies, making the path forward a bit easier and promising,” he adds.

Source: Northwestern University

Gary Schiltz, CMIDD deputy director, research professor in pharmacology
Rama Mishra, a CMIDD cheminformatics who applies computer and informational techniques to chemistry

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