Dr Martin Engel, Dr Yi Sing Gee, Associate Professor Lezanne Ooi and Dr Chris Hyland Photo credit Paul Jones

IHMRI and UOW researchers publish new findings on a potential new drug to treat glioblastoma

Researchers from the Illawarra Health and Medical Institute (IHMRI) and the University of Wollongong (UOW) have published fresh evidence in the Journal of Neurochemistry of a new drug to treat glioblastoma.

Glioblastoma is the most aggressive form of brain cancer. Life expectancy after diagnosis is 12-15 months.

The research team led by Dr Chris Hyland from UOW’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience, and IHMRI’s Associate Professor Lezanne Ooi have been working on the promising treatment for the past four years.

The drug, quinone-methide-phenylaminecyclopropane (Q-PAC) – synthesised by Dr Yi Sing Gee as part of his PhD at UOW –  has been found to impair the health and mobility of cancer cells while not affecting healthy cells.

The team has engineered a dual action drug, which is activated by the high hydrogen peroxide levels typically found near glioblastoma cells in the brain.

Once activated, the drug changes gene expression (increase or decrease the production of specific gene products) and causes oxidative stress, ultimately killing the cancer cells.

“We were very impressed to see how well this drug behaved in vitro against different types of glioblastoma and across a range of important criteria, while remaining selective for cancerous cells,” says Dr Chris Hyland. 

“We learned about how different the response of glioblastoma cells can be to drugs that target the same enzyme, a key finding that resulted in the decision to pair the enzyme inhibitor with the scavenger,” says Dr Martin Engel, a Research Fellow in Associate Professor Ooi’s laboratory who conducted the in-vitro studies.

A further publication will report on the work on the gene expression inhibitors, which formed the experimental foundation for this project.

Read the article

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jnc.14655

Authors: Martin Engel, Yi Sing Gee, Dale Cross, Alan Maccarone, Benjamin Heng, Amy Hulme, Grady Smith, Gilles J. Guillemin, Brett W. Stringer, Christopher J. T. Hyland, Lezanne Ooi

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator

t: 4221 4702

m: 0417 044 867

e: louisenegline@ihmri.org.au

Top photo: Dr Martin Engel, Dr Yi Sing Gee, Associate Professor Lezanne Ooi and Dr Chris Hyland

Photo credit: Paul Jones

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