Statistics show that approximately 40% of Americans will have cancer during their lives. Students at the University of Findlay are currently on their way to developing a groundbreaking treatment for glioblastoma, one of the deadliest forms of cancer.
Pharmacy students are working on tackling this aggressive form of cancer that develops in the brain or spinal cord. Once it has grown, it is almost always impossible to extract. Doctors say the survival rate for five years after diagnosis is less than 10%.
The most recent research developments will not be able to tackle the cancer head-on. However, it is a great achievement that will improve current survival rate statistic.
Treatment for Glioblastoma and How it Works
Using their prior knowledge of medications used to treat glioblastoma as a reference, the students now used a molecule called chalcone. This is a primary drug molecule, something that can be found in the food curry, the famous Indian dish. This is the drug that is now used to treat the most deadly form of cancer.
A medicinal chemist working with the student research team, Dr. Rahul Khupse is the one who discovered that chalcone found in curry has anti-inflammatory properties. He claims it also has anti-cancer properties.
Dr. Khupse and the students worked together to create a new compound with these molecules which they have dubbed “RK-15”.
Most drugs used to treat cancer before were on a warpath that would kill all cells in their way, regardless of whether it was a cancer cell or a healthy cell. The groundbreaking work here is that newly developed compound targets only cancer cells. It does not affect the healthy cells, unlike other forms of treatment.
Revolutionizing Cancer Therapy
Cancer therapy will be transformed through this, according to Dr. Khupse. Chemotherapy, which is the standard cancer treatment worldwide, has significant side effects. The worst of these side effects is that healthy cells in the body are killed along with cancer cells, leading to a loss of energy, higher vulnerability to infections, and sometimes hair loss. These are just a few. However, with this new treatment, cancer patients might be spared these extra struggles.
Dr. Khupse and the students found that RK-15 can penetrate and get through the brain-blood barrier (BBB). The BBB is the brain’s self-defense system. It does this without harming any cells and explicitly aiming for the cancer cells.
According to the researchers, this penetration ability makes the new compound around 100 times more effective against cancer cells only. It is highly selective.
Currently, the status is that the researchers and doctor have just developed this compound. Next, they will move onto testing on animals. Afterward, they will begin human trials, and only after this will the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) approve for it to be sold and used.
In most cases, it takes about 10-15 years for a drug to start being used by patients. The research team from the University of Findlay is currently in their second year.