Scientists at Johns Hopkins University found the compound, called BMH-21, targets and shuts down a common cancer process. Their work focused on the ability of the chemical to sabotage the transcription pathway.
Transcription pathways are the means by which certain proteins that direct cell division are put into action by cells.
BMH-21 has demonstrated an ability to bind to the DNA of cancer cells and completely shut down this transcription pathway, said the study published in the journal Cancer Cell.
“Without this transcription machinery, cancer cells cannot function,” said Marikki Laiho, professor of radiation oncology and molecular radiation sciences at Johns Hopkins and senior author on the study.
In studies of laboratory-grown human tumour cell lines, the drug disrupted tumour cell division and prevented growth of advanced cancer cells, said the research.
BMH-21 also appears to overcome the tendency of cancer cells to resist chemotherapeutic agents because it finds and targets proteins and shuts down the communication pathways that cells use to continue dividing, added the research.
While the findings with BMH-21 are promising, Laiho cautions much more study of the compound is needed before it would be ready for studies in patients.