Scientists Discover Improved Version of Anti-cancer Drug

Published: 09th February 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th February 2015 04:53 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: In 2013, Prof Sathees Raghavan and his group at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) discovered a highly promising anti-cancer drug - a small molecule that targets cancerous cells and arrests the biochemical pathways meant for repairing DNA, leading to cell death.

In order to facilitate its entry into the cells, the group has now come up with an improved version of SCR7, called ‘ESCR7’. The drug acts by binding with a protein found in mammals called Ligase IV, which arrests the DNA repair pathway in cancer cells and kills them.

Recently, a group led by Prof Raghavan and Prof Jinu George had modified the SCR7 by encapsulating it in a polymer. The new compound, ESCR7, is much more efficient than its predecessor.

Dr Raghavan is an associate professor at the Department of Biochemistry, IISc, while Dr George is an assistant professor at the Department of Chemistry, Sacred Heart College in Kochi.

“We report the synthesis and characterisation of an improved version of SCR7, called ESCR7, which was developed by encapsulating it in a nano-carrier so as to improve its bio-availability. Using different cell biology assays, we show that ESCR7 is around five times more efficient than its parent compound in induction of toxicity in cancer cells”, said Prof Raghavan, summarising his research in a press release from IISc.

The study was the result of a collaboration between IISc, Sacred Heart College, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai and KLE University, Bengaluru, and was published in Macromolecular Bioscience, a journal.

Prof Raghavan was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize 2013 for work that led to the discovery of SCR7.  Prof Raghavan and his team demonstrated that SCR7 can be effective in treating different types of cancer on its own, as well as when paired with conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy.

“Encapsulation of the drug in nano-sized carriers like polymers or artificially synthesised molecules helps in easy transport of the drugs to target cells through the blood stream and prevents the drug from getting degraded before being released,” said Supriya Vartak, one of the authors.

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