UH scientists create drug that could prevent and cure cancer

Published: May. 22, 2012 at 9:50 PM HST|Updated: May. 22, 2012 at 11:00 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Imagine just popping a pill or ingesting a spoonful of medicine ... and curing cancer!

Scientists at the University of Hawaii have created a new type of anti-cancer drug that's taken orally. Their findings were published today in the prestigious journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences".

For three years, scientist James Turkson and his team of researchers at U.H.'s cancer center have been tinkering with BP-1-102. It's an anti-cancer drug based on something called molecular targeted therapy. Unlike chemotherapy - which focuses on fast-growing cancer cells - this drug zeroes in on a bad protein attached to a biological molecule called Stat-3. The bad protein triggers the development of many types of the disease, including lung and breast cancer.

"We are looking at specific biological molecules in the cancer cells that make them different from normal cells. And then, we design a drug to target those specific biological molecules that have gone haywire," says Turkson.

Right now, most anti-cancer drugs are administered intravenously, but in experiments, BP-1-102 shows promise in oral form - making it less toxic on the body.

"This is perhaps the first one that has been proven to be effective when given orally, and that's a source of excitement for us," says Turkson.

The anti-cancer drug is in the beginning stages of development, and clinical trials could still be a decade away. But, it's the building block toward prevention and even a cure for cancer - and it's happening right here in Hawaii.

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