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New anti-cancer drug synthesized at Utah State

By Diego Mendiola

Lung cancer treatment could be an easier and more affordable following the discovery of a new anti-cancer drug which has been synthesized and is being readied for mass production by a research group at Utah State University.

The new compound has a naturally occurring base that can also be easily synthesized and transformed into an anti-cancer, chemotherapeutic drug.

“This drug has a broad range. There is only one type of prostate cancer it does not kill and is not active in breast cancer cells,” said Jay Shrestha, a Ph.D. student working in Professor Cheng-Wei Tom Chang’s medical chemistry lab. “It’s really good on lung cancer cells — and there are tons of smokers.”

The paper describing the properties of the new compound was published in September by The Royal Society of Chemistry journal.

The drug kills cancer cells by causing them to self destruct through oxidation or rusting in a process called apoptosis.

The team found the compound to be particularly strong against lung cancer cells.

“These compounds can be easily prepared in large quantity and excellent purity,” Chang wrote in an email. “It certainly translates to cheaper and more affordable drugs for cancer patients. I think that the finding from my group is very significant.”

Chang also said the cost of production on average is much lower than most of the anticancer drugs in the market.

“Anti-cancer is a huge field, there’s a lot of money and a lot of people die of cancer. If our drug is successful and accessible to millions of people,” Shrestha said. “It’ll be very satisfying.”