(RxWiki News) Think antibiotics are just for bacterial infections? Think again. Antibiotic medications have been used to battle cancer for six decades, but they have powerful side effects.
Geldanamycin and its chemical compound called 17AAG have been clinically proven to effectively target and kill different types of cancer. But Geldanamycin hasn't been used much because of the serious side effects these drugs cause, including liver failure.
"Cancer antibiotics hold new treatment promise."
Researchers at Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) have uncovered more of how Geldanamycin and 17AAG work. This discovery may pave the way for resolving the side effects issues.
Yale School of Medicine Professor and Chair of Pharmacology Joseph Schlessinger, Ph.D says these new findings may help to tame the drug so it does what it's designed to do.
Derivitatives of the drug, including 17AAG are less toxic and are currently being evaluated in clinical trials.
This work may also open doors to new drug designs for antibiotics that are effective in killing cancer with fewer, milder side effects.
Lead author of the paper, Qian Xie, M.D., Ph.D., explains these drugs have so much potential because they decrease the workings of oncoproteins which target tumor cells.
Decreasing the toxicitiy of Geldanamycin and 17AAG could be "a boon in the treatment of cancer," says George Vande Woude, Ph.D., head of the VARI Laboratory of Molecular Oncology.
The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A.