A new study finds that many new cancer drugs may not work as intended.
Cancer affects millions of people around the world, and in some cases, it does not respond to the forms of therapy that doctors usually prescribe.
For this reason, researchers keep on looking for ever more effective drugs that can stop cancer in its tracks. Sometimes, these new therapeutics live up to their developers’ expectations, while at other times they fall short.
As the search for improved anticancer drugs continues, a new study has discovered that many of the new medications that do work often target different mechanisms than those the scientists intended them for.
This may also explain why many new drugs fail to work.
The finding comes from a team of scientists at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, who originally set out to study a different issue. Jason Sheltzer, Ph.D., and team initially wanted to identify the genes that had links to low survival rates among people receiving cancer treatment.
But this work led them to find something they did not expect: that MELK, a protein formerly linked with cancer growth, does not affect tumor progression.
Because cancer tumors contain high levels of MELK, researchers had thought that cancer cells used this protein to proliferate. They thought that by stopping MELK production, this would also slow down tumor growth.