15 Feb 2019
NEW USE OF ANTI-PARASITIC DRUG TO POTENTIALLY TREAT CANCER
OF ANTI-PARASITIC DRUG TO POTENTIALLY TREAT CANCER
Singapore clinicians and scientists
have discovered an unprecedented use of an FDA-approved drug to kill p53-defective
SINGAPORE, 15 February 2019
– Scientists from A*STAR’s Institute
of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) have
discovered that niclosamide, an FDA-approved anti-parasitic drug, can
effectively kill p53-defective cancer cells, potentially increasing the
specificity for cancer targeting and sparing normal cells that carry wildtype
p53 (the p53 gene in its natural or non-mutated form). These
findings were published in leading scientific journal Nature Communications.
Mutations of the p53 gene in the human body is the one
of the most common occurrences found in cancer cells and is present in
over 50% of cancers. The p53 gene is a tumour
suppressor gene that inhibits the growth of tumours, and if this
gene is mutated, cancer cells are able to thrive.
Working in collaboration with researchers
from A*STAR’s Bioprocessing Technology Institute and p53 Laboratory, the Skin
Research Institute of Singapore, Duke-NUS Medical School, the Cancer Science
Institute of Singapore, KK Women’s
and Children’s Hospital, National
Cancer Centre Singapore, and National
University of Singapore, the IMCB research team
a drug conventionally
used in the treatment
of intestinal tapeworm infections, induces metabolic
stress in colon cancer cells without p53, thereby effectively causing death of
these cancer cells. This discovery supports the potential use of niclosamide as
a first-in-class drug against a broad spectrum of tumours deficient in p53
“The advantage of repurposing an
FDA-approved drug for novel indications is the quicker time-to-market since
information on their pharmacology and potential toxicity is already available.
This can help to reduce cost and time in developing new candidate therapies and
speed up the pipeline of available therapeutics redirected for targeting
cancers,” said Dr Chit Fang Cheok, Principal Investigator at A*STAR’s IMCB and lead
researcher of the study.
Dr Cheok added that by identifying how
niclosamide works to target p53-defective cancer cells, this could also pave
the way to new therapeutics against p53 mutations.
“A key challenge of cancer therapy today
is the lack of response of some tumours to standard chemotherapy methods. There
is an increasing realisation that personalised or targeted therapy may be an
important step to improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment for patients,”
Dr Cheok said.
Moving forward, the research team plans to test
the efficacy of niclosamide against a broader cohort of tumour types.
For more information, please refer to the
paper “Mitochondrial uncoupling reveals a
novel therapeutic opportunity for p53-defective cancers”, published online
by the journal Nature Communications on 26 September 2018.
Link to online version:
For media queries and to
request high-definition images, please contact:
Mr Robin Chan
Assistant Head, Corporate
Agency for Science, Technology
and Research (A*STAR)
Tel: +65 6826 6281
About A*STAR’s Institute of
Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB)
vision of Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) is to be a premier
cell and molecular biology institute which addresses the mechanistic basis of
human diseases and its mission is to conduct cutting-edge discovery research in
disease pathways; to groom early career researchers to be future leaders in
research; and to collaborate with medical and industry communities for research
impact. IMCB plays an important role training and recruiting scientific
talents, and has contributed to the development of other research entities in
Singapore. Its success in fostering a biomedical research culture in Singapore
has catalysed Singapore’s transformation into an international hub for
biomedical research, development and innovation.
by A*STAR, IMCB’s Discovery research comprises 5 major programmes: Cancer Cell
Signalling, Multi-Modal Molecular (M3) Biology, Epigenetics and Diseases, iPS
cell and Regenerative Medicine, and Technology and Translation. IMCB’s
technologies and platforms focus on Genome-wide RNAi, Humanized Mouse Models,
Proteomics and Protein Engineering, Gene Therapy and Gene Editing, and
more information about IMCB, please visit www.imcb.a-star.edu.sg.
About the Agency for Science,
Technology and Research (A*STAR)
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore's lead public
sector agency that spearheads economic oriented research to advance scientific
discovery and develop innovative technology. Through open innovation, we
collaborate with our partners in both the public and private sectors to benefit
a Science and Technology Organisation, A*STAR bridges the gap between academia
and industry. Our research creates economic growth and jobs for Singapore, and
enhances lives by contributing to societal benefits such as improving outcomes
in healthcare, urban living, and sustainability.
We play a key role in
nurturing and developing a diversity of talent and leaders in our Agency and
research entities, the wider research community and industry. A*STAR’s R&D
activities span biomedical sciences and physical sciences and engineering, with
research entities primarily located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis. For ongoing
news, visit www.a-star.edu.sg.