Singapore team offers new combo drug strategy to kill cancer cells

Some of the top researchers at the p53 Laboratory of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research have come up with a one-two therapeutic punch that could help knock out cancer.

The team, which was led by Dr. Cheok Chit Fang and Professor David Lane, notes that scientists have been prevented from using a drug to spur endoduplication--the accumulation of excess genetic material to the point that a cancer cell self destructs--because the strategy would kill healthy cells.

But activating p53 prevents endoduplication. So any therapy that could activate p53 in healthy cells would leave cancer cells--which often lack working copies of p53--wide open to a secondary attack designed to trigger targeted endoduplication. Once the cancer cells are dead, the process is reversible in the healthy cells.

"We are proposing a unique combination of drugs which may have therapeutic benefits and could potentially alleviate the side effects of currently available cancer treatments," says Lane. "The clinical approval of nutlin or nutlin-like drugs will allow such exciting concepts to be tested in the clinic."

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