Study credits shrub for making once ‘undruggable’ cancer protein treatable

Panel Recommends Lung Cancer Scans for People 50 and up, With Shorter Smoking Histories.The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force presented the new recommendations on Tuesday in the medical journal 'JAMA.'.Almost twice the number of people than before are now advised to receive a preventative lung scan.The recommended age for a scan has been lowered from 55 to 50.and the length of smoking history is reduced from 30 years to 20 years.The changes significantly increase the number of African Americans and women who should be tested.Studies show both women and African Americans have a higher tendency to develop lung cancer at earlier ages and through less exposure to cigarettes.More people die annually of lung cancer in the U.S. than of any other type of cancer

The benefits span lung, colon and breast cancers among others

A cancer protein that was once considered “undruggable” has now become druggable thanks to a shrub that has successfully been synthesized.

Mingji Dai, professor of chemistry and a scientist at the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research, was inspired by a rare compound in a North American shrub. He found a cost-effective method to synthesize curcusone D, which has the potential to help fight a protein found in many cancers. They include some forms of lung, colorectal, brain, breast, liver and prostate cancers to name a few.

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Previously, the protein named BRAT1 was considered “undruggable” due to its chemical properties.

The research was published last month in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Curcusones come from the purging nut, which is a shrub. In addition to being found in North America, it’s also on continents including Africa and Asia. For a long time, purging nut has been used for medicinal properties, which includes cancer treatments.

Dai was specifically interested in exploring the properties of the curcusone A, B, C and D compounds.

“We were very interested by these compounds’ novel structure,” Dai said. “We were intrigued by their biological function; they showed quite potent anti-cancer activity and may lead to new mechanisms to combat cancer.”

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When the compounds were tested on breast cancer cells, researchers found that curcusone D was highly efficient at closing off cancer cells.

“Our compound can not only kill these cancer cells, it can stop their migration,” Dai said. “If we can keep the cancer from metastasizing, the patient can live longer.”

Dai added that when it comes to “killing cancer cells and stopping migration, there are other compounds that do that. But as far as inhibiting the BRAT1 protein, there are no other compounds that can do that.”

Dai and his team believe that curcusone D can be used alone and in combination with other therapies. In fact, it may be more effective in the latter use.

Next, the team plans to test the compound to make sure it’s not toxic to humans. Additionally, researchers from other institutions have already contacted the team to test the compound on the cancers they’re studying.

“Many of our most successful cancer drugs have come from nature,” Dai said. “A lot of the low-hanging fruit, the compounds that are easy to isolate or synthesize, have already been screened and picked over. We are looking for things no one has thought about before. Once we have the chemistry, we can build the molecules we’re interested in and study their biological function.”

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