Students at Tennessee Tech University are developing and testing a series of chemical compounds that show promise of stopping cancer in its tracks.
A research team comprised mainly of undergraduate TTU students is producing and analyzing several series of new potent anti-cancer agents based on an existing anti-cancer drug, Triapine, which is undergoing clinical trials around the world. Triapine is a chemical in a class of compounds called thiosemicarbazones, which stop tumor cell growth by blocking enzymes needed for cell replication.
The TTU students are working with chemistry professor Edward Lisic to determine the minimum dosage needed to be effective.
"Most cancer treatments have unpleasant side effects because the drugs kill good enzymes too," Lisic said. "The student researchers are finding that minor modifications to the chemical compounds can change the efficacy. These new thiosemicarbazone agents may find use in cancer treatment as stand-alone drugs, or in a cocktail of other chemotherapy drugs that work together to inhibit or kill cancer cells and tumors."
The goal is to produce a compound that attacks over-expressed cancerous enzymes and stops progression of the cancer, without killing the good enzymes.
The TTU students are on the front line of drug development in the labs at TTU, synthesizing series of new compounds and characterizing them using state-of-the-art equipment such as nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. The students go to the biology labs, too, and pipe the compounds into cell cultures to screen how effectively the compound is stopping cell growth.