Antibiotic an Anti-Cancer Therapy?

Immunosuppressant antibiotic may point to targeted cancer treatment

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) An antibiotic known to suppress the immune system may lead to the development of new anti-cancer agents, according to research at Indiana University School of Medicine.

While attempting to determine how the compound known as tautomycetin exerts immune suppression activity, researchers found that tautomycetin can target an enzyme (SHP2) implicated in cell activities such as proliferation and differentiation. The enzyme SPH2 is also known to cause several types of tumors and leukemia.

The SPH2 enzyme makes up part of a larger family of enzymes called protein tyrosine phosphotases (PTPs), which are important in the signaling and regualtion processes that control all essential cellular functions. The deregulation of these processes is associated with a number of diseases, including diabetes, cancer and immune disorders.

Researchers identified a natural product produced by the bacteria Streptomyces that should serve as a basis for developing therapeutic agents for PTP targets, possibly resulting in new cancer-fighting agents.

Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide and the second-leading cause of mortality in the United States, accounting for 13 percent of all deaths (7.4 million) in 2004, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

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Review Date: 
February 1, 2011
Last Updated:
February 2, 2011