With a Little Help From My Friends

Multiple myeloma laboratory experiments shows successful treatment with bortezomib and PD 0332991

(RxWiki News) Things always go a little easier when you've got a friend by your side. As it turns out, that's true on a cellular level as well.

Like a lot of good parternships, Velcade (bortezomib) and an experimental molecule too new to have a regular name yet (PD 0332991) work well by themselves.

But, they really shine when they're used together!

"Ask your doctor about drug interactions."

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College found that the cancer fighting effects of each drug were exponentially multiplied when used together in their laboratory studies on tumor cells Follow up experiments on mice verified the lab results.

The normal cellular growth cycle is derailed in cancer, and uncontrolled growth and multiplication is often the result. PD 0332991 stops the cellular cycle in a vulnerable moment, leaving the cancer cell wide open for cellular destruction by Velcade.

"We found bortezomib, even when used in a low dose, was significantly more effective when the cancer cells were sensitized by our strategy," stated Xiangao Huang, PhD, a professor from Weill Cornell Medical College.

Testing was performed on in a laboratory setting using plasma cells, the blood cells responsible for the symptoms of multiple myeloma

Dr. Selina Chen-Kiang, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and of Microbiology and Immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College was the lead scientist on the study, and said that a lot of other specific drugs for targeting cancers could be made more powerful by using them alongside the new PD 0332991 molecule.

"These findings demonstrate for the first time that key survival and apoptotic genes are regulated by the cell cycle in cancer cells, and suggest new molecular targets for intervention," Dr. Chen-Kiang says.

In theory, it's an especially effective strategy because most normal cells would not be affected by the drugs, since they are not in a state of dividing constantly.

"Because robust functioning of the cell cycle is crucial to cancer growth and survival, this mechanism-based strategy could theoretically be used against many kinds of cancers," stated Dr. Chen-Kiang.

"Based on the genetics of a patient's tumor, we could pair PD 0332991 with the right cytotoxic partner drug to both inhibit cancer cell division and sensitize the cells for that knock-out punch," Dr. Chen-Kiang elaborated. "We are very excited about the promise of this approach."

Multiple myeloma is the second most common cancer of the blood in the United States, which an average survival of under five years after diagnosis.

The study was published online in the journal Blood on June 20, 2012.

Funding was provided by the National Cancer Institute, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the Starr Cancer Consortium.

Review Date: 
June 23, 2012