Starving Cancer to Death

STF-62247 and STF-31 may offer two-pronged cancer attack

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

(RxWiki News) Like every other living organism, cancer cells need food to live. They live off glucose to grow and spread. Scientists have identified two compounds that block the sugar and starves the cancer.

Stanford University researchers have uncovered a potential new cancer therapy that could fight the disease by keeping cells from being able to feed off glucose. Working with kidney cancer, researchers have found that two compounds could work together to kill cancer with a great deal less toxicity than chemotherapy.

"Kidney cancer may have a powerful new enemy soon."

One of the problems with conventional chemotherapy is that it destroys both healthy and cancerous rapidly dividing cells. Researchers have been trying to find ways to target only the cancer cells, while leaving the healthy cells alone. New progress is being made on that front.

This study focused on trying to find agents that inhibit the ability of cancer cells to use glucose. Researchers used a common form of renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) because it's one of the toughest cancers to treat. The disease resists typical chemotherapies.

Study author, Amato Giaccia, Ph.D., professor and director of radiation oncology at Stanford University, explains that 90 percent of kidney cancers have a gene mutation that causes uncontrolled cell growth. So researchers looked at ways to target and kill this specific gene.

Using the Stanford High-Throughput Bioscience Center, the research team tested some 64,000 chemical compounds on tumor cells with this mutation. They found two drugs that caused cell death: STF-62247, identified in 2008 which is already preclinical testing, and newly identified STF-31, which kills cells in a slightly different way.

These two agents, both of which stop the cells from being able to feed off glucose, could be teamed to deliver a multi-pronged attack against kidney and other types of cancer.

Researchers found that STF-31 robbed cancer cells of their energy source. In a mouse model, STF-31 slowed tumor growth, with very few side effects.

The team is looking to find other types of cancers that depend on glucose in the same way renal carcinoma cells do.

This research was published in Science Translational Medicine.

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Review Date: 
August 4, 2011
Last Updated:
August 6, 2011