Four new anti-cancer compounds have shown promise in inhibiting the growth of tumours, according to a new approach.
Jason Smith, doing his M.Phil. in biomolecular sciences from Macquarie University, combined existing knowledge of an enzyme with computational chemistry approach to identify novel (cancer) inhibitors.
The enzyme (indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase) has generated excitement amongst researchers due to its increasingly recognised role as a drug target, particularly in cancer.
Over the past 10 years, scientists have learnt that compounds inhibiting this enzyme allow the immune system to attack cancer cells, the journal Bio-organic and Medicinal Chemistry reported.
“They have found that if you use these inhibitors alone, they slow tumour growth. Even more exciting is that in combination with chemotherapy, these inhibitors have the potential to destroy a tumour entirely,” explains Smith, a university statement said.
After conducting virtual screening of a database of almost 60,000 compounds, Smith found 18 compounds that could potentially act as inhibitors of this enzyme.
He then tested them and found four compounds with particularly exciting prospects.
“Computational chemistry means we don’t have to spend years testing thousands of compounds in the lab,” he said.
“We can analyse all the potential compounds and narrow them down in a matter of six month’s preparation and virtual screening, instead of years. In fact, after all the preparation and groundwork, the screening itself takes around 100 hours,” he further added.