July 23, 2024

Novel Combination Drug Utilizes Calcium Channels to Destroy Tumor Cells

A group of researchers has developed a groundbreaking combination drug that effectively kills tumor cells by manipulating the influx of calcium ions into the cell. This drug does not require an external calcium source and instead leverages the calcium ions already present in the tumor tissue. The study detailing this innovative drug was recently published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Biological cells rely on calcium ions for various cellular processes, including the proper functioning of mitochondria. However, higher concentrations of calcium can overwhelm the mitochondrial processes and result in cellular suffocation.

Led by Juyoung Yoon from Ewha Womens University in Seoul, South Korea, in collaboration with teams from China, the researchers harnessed this process to design a synergistic antitumor drug capable of opening calcium channels and triggering a lethal influx of calcium ions within tumor cells.

an organelle responsible for calcium ion storage. The channel in the outer membrane opens when exposed to significant amounts of reactive oxygen species (ROS), while the channel in the endoplasmic reticulum is activated by nitric oxide molecules.

To generate the ROS necessary for opening the calcium channel in the outer membrane, the researchers utilized the indocyanine green dye. This bioactive agent can be activated by near-infrared light, which not only triggers reactions leading to the production of ROS but also generates heat in the surrounding environment. The researchers explain that this high local temperature activates the other active agent, BNN-6, stimulating the release of nitric oxide molecules that open the calcium channel in the endoplasmic reticulum.

Following successful trials on tumor cell lines, the researchers conducted experiments on mice with implanted tumors using an injectable formulation of the drug. They loaded the active ingredients into modified porous silica beads, which are biocompatible and harmless to the body but can be recognized and transported into tumor cells.

Upon administering the beads into the mice’s bloodstream, the researchers observed that the drug accumulated within the tumor. Near-infrared light exposure successfully triggered the drug’s mechanism of action, resulting in the disappearance of the tumor within a few days in mice that received the treatment.

The authors of the study emphasize that the approach of manipulating ion influx may also prove beneficial in other areas of biomedical research. By applying a similar mechanism to activate ion channels other than calcium, researchers can explore new therapeutic approaches for various conditions.

This groundbreaking combination drug holds immense potential for treating tumors by exploiting the natural calcium ions present in tumor tissue. The ability to selectively target calcium channels and unleash a deadly influx of calcium ions within tumor cells provides a highly promising approach to combating cancer. Future research in this area could open doors to exciting new treatment strategies for a variety of diseases and conditions.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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