Researchers at Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) and Hanyang University have found a new anticancer principle that tempts cancer cells to die on their own.
|Professors Kim Yoo-chun|
Disturbing cell ions is one of the strategies to inhibit essential cell functions. The function is also one of the main strategies used in anticancer drugs. However, the clinical applicability of disturbing cell ions was low as the strategy had certain limitations such as low solubility.
To resolve the problem, the team, led by Professors Kim Yoo-chun at KAIST and Yoon Chae-ok at Hanyang University, discovered an alpha-helical peptide-based anticancer substance, which is water-soluble but has potassium (K) ion transport capability.
“The key is to combine a water-friendly group and a potassium ion transportable group with cationic nature at the end of the peptide,” the team said. “The new anticancer peptide lowers intracellular potassium concentration and increases intracellular calcium (Ca) concentration.”
The intracellular calcium concentration increase also helps to boost active oxygen concentration and cause endoplasmic reticulum stress, which ultimately leads cells to cause self-destruction, it added.
The researchers have confirmed that the substance is effective in inhibiting cancer growth through an animal experiment.
“Our team expects that the new principle will be able to replace existing cancer therapy limitations as it can kill cancer cells,” Professor Kim said.
The results of the research were selected as the back cover in the July edition of Advanced Science.