A novel compound to kill cancer cells

In news

Researchers at Kolkata’s Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) have synthesised a novel compound that shows potent anticancer activity.

How does the compound work?

The porphyrin compound selectively targets and binds to cellular topoisomerase 1 enzyme (which is essential for maintenance of DNA architecture in the cells) found in cancer cells.

Since Top1 enzyme is essential for cell replication and transcription from DNA to RNA, inhibition of its activity leads to DNA torsional strain, overproduction of reactive oxygen species, degradation of the DNA and ultimately cell death.

Comparision with currently available drug

Before a cell replicates, the Top1 enzyme binds to the DNA, cuts it and unwinds the DNA before rejoining the cut DNA. While the currently available drug inhibits the Top1 enzyme after the DNA has been cut, the porphyrin compound comes into play much earlier by inhibiting the Top1 enzyme from even binding to the DNA.

“Cellular experiments show that the compound acts well before the enzyme can cut the DNA [which is when the currently available drug begins to act].

TOP1 enzyme

TOP1 is an important nuclear enzyme that interconverts supercoiled DNA to the necessary topological conformations for standard DNA replication and transcription. TOP1 is the target antigen for TOP1 autoantibodies. TOP1 antibodies are a specific marker in scleroderma patients (specificity 98-100%) and are related with the existence of diffuse skin involvement and pulmonary fibrosis. In human tissues top1 enzyme is primarily synthesized as a protein with a molecular weight of 100-kDa.

Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS)

The Institute is run by the Governing Council, which is the apex policy making body. The Director is the chief executive officer of the Institute and runs the business of the Association under the supervision of the Council. The Director is assisted by the Departmental Heads of the Scientific Departments and Service Departments including Administration.

it focuses on fundamental research in basic sciences. It is India’s oldest research institute


What Is Cancer and What Causes It?

In the most basic terms, cancer refers to cells that grow out-of-control and invade other tissues. Cells become cancerous due to the accumulation of defects, or mutations, in their DNA. Certain:

  • inherited genetic defects (for example, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations),
  • infections,
  • environmental factors (for example, air pollution), and
  • poor lifestyle choices — such as smoking and heavy alcohol use — can also damage DNA and lead to cancer.

Most of the time, cells are able to detect and repair DNA damage. If a cell is severely damaged and cannot repair itself it undergoes so-called programmed cell death or apoptosis. Cancer occurs when damaged cells grow, divide, and spread abnormally instead of self-destructing as they should.

Cancer Statistics in India

  • Estimated number of people living with the disease: around 2.5 million
  • Every year, new cancer patients registered: Over 7 lakh
  • Cancer-related deaths: 5,56,400




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