Treatment advance for drug-resistant diseases

A new weapon has been developed in the war against drug-resistant diseases and it promises to result in more effective treatments for many of the most intractable illnesses, ranging from superbug infections to tuberculosis and cancer.

US researchers believe they have found a way to overcome the drug resistance that is frequently seen in ovarian cancer patients given the drug Taxol – a chemotherapy agent that becomes less effective over time. The breakthrough could have wider implications for the many other illnesses where drug resistance is a problem, such as multiply-resistant strains of staphylococcus that result in hospital-acquired infections.

The study focussed on a way of boosting Taxol levels within ovarian cancer cells by combating the cell's natural mechanism of expelling the drug from within its outer membrane, which is one way drug-resistance can develop. "Taxol works pretty well in the beginning – 70 or 80 per cent of patients have a response – but it fails in the end because drug resistance develops," said Nelson Teng, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Stanford University in California.

"Overcoming Taxol resistance is big, it's huge," he added. "In essence, the technology can be used to overcome one of the most challenging types of problems of drug resistance. This could potentially be used with any drug which is effective but has a delivery problem, not just Taxol."

Taxol resistance develops because cancer cells become sensitised to the medication. That happens as a result of the proliferation of pumps on the cell membrane, which normally eject foreign material from within the cell but also work on keeping Taxol levels low.

"It is kind of like a bouncer. If you are not recognised as being part of the club, then you are kicked out," added Paul Wender, a chemistry professor at Stanford who led the research team.

Taxol-resistant cancer cells produce a lot more pumps than non-resistant cells. That allows them to proliferate in such a way that a cancer can spread. The scientists circumvented the problem by giving Taxol better powers of penetrating the cell membrane.

"If we think of the pump as being a bouncer for the cellular club, effectively what we are doing is disguising one of these therapeutic agents to get it in through the back door or the side door. We are not even going to deal with the bouncer," Professor Wender said.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, found that surrounding the Taxol molecule with the amino-acid arginine, which occurs naturally in the body, increased the ability of the drug to both enter and keep inside the cell.

"Nature has developed all of this firepower for getting things into cells, and one of the ways is to create entities that are arginine-rich," said Professor Wender. "Arginine-rich sequences appear to figure in the mechanism by which many pathogens invade cells. It is an exciting result to be able to take a drug known to work against cancer, but stymied by resistant cells, and restore it to effectiveness using an arginine transporter. This bodes well for use with other drugs that succumb to resistance."

Arginine-rich Taxol was tested on mice injected with human ovarian cancer cells. Further tests are needed before it can be tested in clinical trials on humans.

News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Sport
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
tv
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Extras
indybest
News
i100... and no one notices
Arts and Entertainment
Friends reunited: Julian Ovenden, Richard Cant and Matt Bardock in rehearsals for the Donmar revival of 'My Night
with Reg'
theatrePoignancy of Kevin Elyot's play being revived just after his death
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Year 5/6 Teacher

    £100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The successful applicant w...

    Year 5/6 Teacher

    £21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobThe successful ...

    Business Analyst (Systems/ Incident Analyst)

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Business Analyst r...

    SAP GRC Architect / Consultant

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am currently looking for a PERMANENT S...

    Day In a Page

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor