A Basque research consortium has managed to halt the progress of colon cancer and its metastasis in the liver in an experimental model with mice. This advance, that may open a new path for the future treatment of such pathologies, has been achieved by creating molecules which interfere with the adhesion of tumour cells to other cells of the organism. In this way, the molecules halt both the growth of the tumour and the dissemination of the tumour to and its proliferation in other organs.
The research, published in the prestigious North American Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, is based on a previous work by researchers at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) which had described a series of molecules which reduced the metastasis of melanoma (a serious variety of skin cancer) in mice. That research opened up the possibility of generating new molecules with this activity in other types of cancer and following a similar strategy, something which has been achieved in this, later research, applied to colon cancer and its metastasis of the liver.
The Basque research consortium is made up of the CIC bioGUNE biociences research centre, the UPV/EHU, the Institute of Genetics and a Molecular and Cell Biology (IGBMC) in Strasbourg (France), and the Ikerchem spin-off Enterprise. Moreover, researchers from the Rocasolano Chemical-Physical Institute, from the CSIC (the Spanish Council for Scientific Research) and from the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research took part.
"In this project we first designed inhibitors to cell adhesion involved in the metastasis of murine melanomas, and then undertook the chemical synthesis of these molecules, testing their biological potential and activity. What was surprising was that our calculations predicted that, by introducing relatively small changes, we would be able to generate new molecules with the capacity to inhibit cell adhesion involved in another type of cancer. This prediction was confirmed by the experiments, suggesting that these techniques of chemical design and synthesis could be extended to other related therapeutic targets", stated Dr. Fernando Cossío, UPV/EHU professor and co-founder of Ikerchem S. L., as well as President of the Executive Committee of Ikerbasque.