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Researchers Develop New Technique To Exploit Iron Addiction In Tumors

Apr, 2022

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Scientists used a drug already approved by the FDA to stop the growth of tumors caused due to mutations in RAS gene, without affecting healthy cells

There are many drugs available that are developed for the treatment of cancer. However, these drugs often cause toxic side effects on healthy cells and these side effects restrain them from achieving their full potential. Now researchers at University of California San Francisco developed a new approach to treat these tumors. The scientists used a drug pre-approved by the FDA to stop or hold the growth of tumors that is caused  by mutation in RAS gene, treating which is difficult and which causes on in four deaths in cancer.

RAS gene play an important role in protecting the body against cancer as they regulate pathways allowing cancer cells to grow and mutate. The new research focuses on this RAS gene. The researchers discovered that many of the tumors’ growth is driven by a type of mutation in RAS gene known as KRAS mutations, which contain high levels of ferrous iron. Which means that heightened levels of iron was linked to shorter period of patient’s survival. The team used a drug called cobimetinib, which is an FDA approved drug that effectively halts the uncontrollable growth of the tumor driven by KRAS mutations.

Furthermore, the team created a new form of cobimetinib with a molecular sensor for ferrous iron, so the drug targets selective cancer cells containing ferrous iron, without affecting healthy cells. The team conducted experiments with this new drug named TRX-cobimetinib on mouse model with cancers caused due to KRAS. The new drug effectively shrank the tumors without causing any harmful side effects. With low toxicity levels, the researchers may also use other cancer drugs into the mix to boost the attack on cancer cells allowing to develop treatments that may prevent cancer growth with higher efficiency.

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