Cancer breakthrough: a tumour-killing pill has been developed, according to new reports

scientist looking at brain scans
A 'cancer-killing' pill has been developed Monty Rakusen - Getty Images

A "cancer-killing" pill has been developed by scientists at the City of Hope, one of North America's largest cancer research and treatment organisations. The new drug, known as AOH1996 - which has actually been in development for 20 years - is now undergoing pre-clinical research in the US. So far in the research, it has shown to be effective in treating breast, prostate, cervical, ovarian, skin, brain and lung cancers.

According to reports, the pill kills solid tumours through "targeted chemotherapy" but leaves healthy cells unaffected. In terms of targeting, it zooms in on the cancerous variant of a protein called PCNA (proliferating cell nuclear antigen) - the protein "critical" in the replication of DNA and the repair of growing tumours.

The recent study, which was published in the Cell Chemical Biology journal, tested the PCNA protein across more than 70 cancer cell lines. It found that the AOH1996 drug eradicated cancer cells by "disrupting the normal cell reproductive cycle."

lung cancer chest x ray
Peter Dazeley - Getty Images

Professor Linda Malkas, who has been closely working on its development, compared the drug to a "major airline terminal hub containing multiple plane gates."

"Data suggests PCNA is uniquely altered in cancer cells, and this fact allowed us to design a drug that targeted only the form of PCNA in cancer cells."

She added that the "cancer-killing pill is like a snowstorm that closes a key airline hub," which she explained as "shutting down all flights in and out only in planes carrying cancer cells."

Professor Malkas detailed that, so far, the results have been promising, with the pill being able to suppress tumour growth "as a monotherapy or combination treatment in cell and animal models without resulting in toxicity."

However, she explained that the treatment is only in a Phase 1 clinical trial in humans at the City of Hope. Despite this, the professor did outline that the breakthrough will enable them to "dig deeper," which could lead to the development of more personalised and targeted cancer medicines in the future.

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