Synthetic compound works as targeted cancer therapy

A synthetic compound developed in the lab at UT Southwestern Medical Center mimics the cellular protein Smac, broadcasting a message to cancer cells that triggers their destruction. In a study published in Cancer Cell, the researchers--led by Dr. Xiaodong Wang--found that the compound induced cell death in about one quarter of all the lung-cancer lines tested while demonstrating activity against some types of breast cancer. Wang says the scientific team found that the cell lines that were sensitive to the action of synthetic Smac produced tumor necrosis factor-a (TNFa), which by itself promotes the development of cancer. Combined with the compound, though, the cells die.

"The apparent ability of a Smac mimetic, as a single agent, to induce cell death in nearly one-quarter of lung-cancer cell lines tested was quite remarkable," said Dr. Wang, who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at UT Southwestern.

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- read the UPI report on the compound