Researchers at Cardiff University, in collaboration with the University of Birmingham, have developed molecules that could activate the immune system to eradicate cancer cells.
The activation of the immune system to attack and eliminate cancer cells and tumours is proving to be an effective strategy for treating cancer. In a collaboration led by Dr. Youcef Mehellou from Cardiff University and Prof. Ben Willcox from the University of Birmingham, a series of compounds have been discovered that are able to selectively target and activate one type of immune cells, which is thought to important in fighting cancer in humans. This activated sub-type of immune cells was then shown to be effective in eradicating bladder cancer cells.
The research was based on a naturally occurring molecule in bacteria, which is known to activate the immune response in humans. However, this molecule has poor drug-like properties. To make this naturally occurring compound have improved drug-like properties, Dr. Mehellou, designed and made a series of prodrugs of this naturally compounds, which they called “ProPAgens”. These showed potent activation of the immune response, which led to the elimination of bladder cancer cells.
Dr. Youcef Mehellou, who co-lead the study, said: “The compounds we discovered are very promising starting point in developing new immunotherapeutic drugs against many diseases like cancer and tuberculosis. The potency of these compounds in eradicating cancer cells is quite impressive and we are currently optimising them further with the view of studying their efficacy and safety in cancer models very soon”
Further details on this discovery can be found here: