NUS and Harvard Scientists Develop Novel Drug to Treat Liver Cancer Effectively

A team of Scientists from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) developed a novel peptide drug called FFW to treat liver cancer effectively.

FFW could potentially stop the development of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) or primary liver cancer.

This discovery can be used for more effective treatment of liver cancer with less side effects.

Peptide drug FFW shows promise in reducing tumour growth and slowing down spread of cancer cells.

HCC is a fast-growing cancer of the liver, and patients typically survive 11 months after diagnosis.

The main first-line treatment for HCC is the drug Sorafenib, which has adverse side effects and prolongs survival for only three months.

SALL4, which is a protein related to tumour growth has been widely studied as a prognosis marker and drug target for HCC and other cancers such as lung cancer and leukaemia.

It is usually present in the growing foetus but is inactive in adult issue. However, SALL4 has been classified as an 'undruggable target'.

Drug molecules which act on protein interactions like SALL4-NuRD often require the target proteins to have a small ‘pocket’ in their 3D structure where the drug molecule can reside and take effect.

The research can be the SALL4 protein works with another protein, NuRD, to form a partnership that is crucial for the development of cancers such as HCC.

The research team also discovered that FFW, when used in combination with Sorafenib, could reduce the growth of Sorafenib-resistant HCC.

While most targeted therapies are small-molecule drugs, a well-designed peptide drug – such as FFW - tends to possess higher selectivity over large binding surfaces with a safer toxicity profile compared with small molecules.

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