Discovering less toxic cancer drugs

Hiroshi HiasaTopoisomerase inhibitors, which can limit the activity of DNA-altering enzymes, are commonly used to treat a variety of cancers. But these drugs, while effective, can also cause genotoxicity, leading to a host of side effects, including secondary cancers and serious heart conditions.

With support from the Masons, U pharmacology faculty member Hiroshi Hiasa, Ph.D., and his team discovered two novel topoisomerase inhibiting compounds that may be just as effective in treating cancer, but without the toxicity. They found that these compounds inhibit the spread of colon cancer in mice and believe that they may be effective against other cancers that are resistant to currently available topoisomerase inhibitors.

This research has shown such promise that Hiasa’s team is preparing to submit an application to the FDA to conduct clinical trials in the near future. “If we can show that our novel compounds are as effective as proven topoisomerase inhibitors, but have a better safety profile, we could provide many cancer patients with safer therapeutic options,” says Hiasa.

“Our project is in the stage where securing enough funding is difficult. Support from Minnesota Masonic Charities allows us to advance our work toward the development of novel anti-cancer drugs.”

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