A team of researchers led by investigators from the University of Granada (Spain) have designed a drug that fights cancer stem-like cells (CSCs). The new drug, termed Bozepinib, has demonstrated selective action against breast and colon cancer as well as melanoma CSCs in preclinical studies. The study was recently published in Oncotarget.
CSCs are believed to be responsible for the the onset and development of cancer, and are the cause of relapse after chemotherapy. These appear in small quantities in tumors, and one of their main characteristics of these cells is their ability to contribute to the formation of metastasis in different places within the original tumor.
Under normal conditions, CSCs remain dormant and do not divide. Conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy act upon differentiated cancer cells; however, these therapies are unable to destroy the dormant cells. In fact, after a positive initial response to treatment, many patients suffer a relapse due to the survival of the CSCs.
During the last few years, cancer researchers have focused on identifying new drugs that can selectively attack these stem cells. Bozenipip, a small antitumor compound, demonstrated selectivity on cancer cells and showed an inhibitory effect over kinases involved in carcinogenesis, proliferation and angiogenesis.
“The powerful antitumor activity of Bozepinib is due to the inhibition of the HER2 signaling pathway, and to the fact that this drug inhibits the invasiveness and the formation of new vessels in the tumor (angiogenesis),” explained Juan Antonio Marchal who led the study at the University of Granada. Researchers have also revealed the specific mechanism by which Bozepinib acts against CSCs.
Bozepinib showed in vivo antitumor and antimetastatic efficacy in xenotransplanted nude mice without presenting subacute toxicity. These results support further studies on the therapeutic potential of Bozepinib in cancer patients
Sources: Ramírez A, Boulaiz H, Morata-Tarifa C et al. HER2-signaling pathway, JNK and ERKs kinases, and cancer stem-like cells are targets of Bozepinib. Oncotarget, 5 (11), 3590–3606 (2014); University of Granada press release