After almost a decade of research Australian scientists have discovered a new type of anti-cancer drug that can put cancer cells into a permanent sleep, without the harmful side-effects caused by conventional cancer therapies.
Research led by Associate Professor Tim Thomas and Associate Professor Anne Voss from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Professor Jonathan Baell from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Dr Brendon Monahan from Cancers Therapeutics CRC investigated whether inhibiting the KAT6A and KAT6B proteins could be a new approach to treating cancer.
The KAT6A and KAT6B proteins are responsible for amplifying genes that stimulate cancer growth.
“Early on, we discovered that genetically depleting KAT6A quadrupled the life expectancy in animal models of blood cancers called lymphoma. Armed with the knowledge that KAT6A is an important driver of cancer, we began to look for ways of inhibiting the protein to treat cancer,” Associate Professor Thomas said.
By targeting specific proteins the researchers were able to develop a small molecule that inhibits their activity. The process can stop tumour growth and spread without damaging the cells’ DNA.