Scientists discover mechanism that could improve platinum-based cancer therapies

March 27, 2024  19:16

Scientists have identified a protein that, when exposed to it, allows cisplatin-resistant cancer cells to become sensitive to treatment. Cisplatin and other similar platinum drugs are incredibly effective at killing fast-growing cancer cells, which is why they have been used in cancer treatment for over 45 years. However, these drugs are not targeted and can cause debilitating toxic side effects leading to reduced lifestyle, and for patients in poor health, they are considered unsuitable for use.

In a study published in Cancer Research, researchers say they found that the protein puromycin-sensitive aminopeptidase (NPEPPS) plays a role in regulating the response to platinum-based chemotherapy in patients with bladder cancer.

"We found that this protein is the driving force behind resistance to platinum-based therapies. If we remove it experimentally or pharmacologically, we can re-sensitise cancer cells to their pre-drug-resistant level of response," said study co-author Dr James Costello.

Costello and his team sought to understand why most bladder cancer patients respond poorly to platinum-based drug regimens. By identifying the role that NPEPPS plays, the researchers were then able to genetically disrupt NPEPPS function, ultimately making cancer cells more sensitive to platinum drugs.

"Our comprehensive evaluation involving the use of tiny organoids derived from patients' bladder cancer samples yielded results that could make this effective treatment available to many more patients," the scientists said.

According to the scientists, this new therapeutic approach could allow lower doses of platinum-based drugs to be administered, potentially reducing debilitating side effects and making platinum-based therapies more effective.

"A high percentage of all cancer patients will receive platinum-based drugs in their treatment. Our work opens the door to extending these results to other cancers. Our goal is to help platinum-based drugs be more effective in many clinical settings," the study said.

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