UArizona Cancer Center member Noel Warfel, PhD, co-led a research team that created and patented technology to combat anti-cancer drug resistance.
The results of a recent study co-led by a University of Arizona Cancer Center researcher suggest that novel therapeutic molecules known as proteolysis targeting chimeras, or PROTACs, could help overcome resistance to a class of anti-cancer drugs that are used to treat a wide range of cancers. The results were published online in Cell Chemical Biology.
A kinase is a type of protein that cells use to perform specific functions. One specific kinase, the PIM kinase, has been connected to the survival and spread of cancer cells. To improve cancer treatment outcomes, scientists developed PIM kinase inhibitor drugs; however, some patients develop resistance to these drugs, causing their disease to progress despite treatment.
In response, researchers from the National Cancer Institute and the University of Arizona Health Sciences created and patented PIM-PROTACs. Instead of blocking PIM activity, the PROTACs eliminate the PIM1 protein entirely.
“We developed a drug that finds PIM in the cell, binds it and degrades the whole protein away,” said Noel Warfel, PhD, a UArizona Cancer Center member and associate professor of cellular and molecular medicine in the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson. “We tested our PIM-PROTAC in prostate cancer models, and it works significantly better than currently available PIM inhibitors that have gone to trial.”