Killing Cancer Cells with a Trojan Horse Strategy

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Really fascinating talk by Johns Hopkins University researcher Peter L. Pedersen, PhD. Dr. Pedersen’s lab is studyiTrojanHorseng a compound that disrupts cancer cells’ mitochondria, the energy-producing part of the cell. If cancer cells can’t produce energy – they die. But disrupting the mitochondria in cancer cells is challenging: there are two sources of energy in cancer cells – only one in healthy cells – and the trick is to target only the cancer cells, not the healthy one, said Dr. Pedersen.

Dr. Pedersen presented his lab’s findings on a compound called 3-BrPA for short, which appears to stop liver cancer cells from producing energy. 3-BrPA sneaks into a cancer cells’ mitochondria using the Trojan Horse strategy. It’s structurally similar to another compound (lactic acid) found in high amounts in cancer cells. The cancer cells mistakes 3-BrPA for lactic acid and transports it inside. There, 3-BrPA gets in the way of the two pathways in energy production.

In animal studies, Dr. Pedersen’s lab has had promising results. For example, out of 33 animals with advanced liver cancer: the tumors of the 19 animals treated with 3-BrPA all went away within 1 to 4 weeks; the tumors in the untreated animals continued to grow.

While exciting, right now this research is still only in the laboratory phase.

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    Now It Can Be Told…

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    You know our press conference yesterday? The one that got us all that nice coverage that’s raising awareness about the link between excess body fat and cancer risk?

    Yeah, funny story:

    Two hours before the press conference was scheduled to begin, we arrived to set up the room and discovered that the hotel had accidentally thrown out all our press kits. All of the information we’d prepared for the press – releases, backgrounders, bios – gone.

    Eventually, with minutes to spare, the kits were found and fished from the dumpster out back, a bit worse for wear. We slipped them into new folders, and no one was the wiser.

    Except for the one reporter who noticed the coffee grounds stuck to his Cancer Risk Awareness Survey.

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