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  • A "major scientific breakthrough" in cancer research could help millions

    Author: AAP

Australian researchers say a newly discovered compound shows promise in treating a diverse range of cancers, particularly acute myeloid leukaemia.

A team of international researchers have made a "major scientific breakthrough" in cancer research that has the potential to help millions of people with the deadly disease.

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Researchers at Australia's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have shown a newly discovered compound effectively kills off a protein essential for the growth of the deadly disease.

The compound called S63845 was discovered by international pharmaceutical company Servier, based in France, and works by targeting the protein MCL1.

MCL1 keeps cancer cells alive and is found in many types of cancers.


"By directly targeting MCL1 it bascially sends these cancers cells to their death," says Associate Professor Guillaume Lessene, who led the research at the institute.

He says the work, published in journal Nature, provides the first clear preclinical evidence that inhibiting MCL1 is effective in targeting several cancer types.

It has shown particular promise in fighting blood cancers such as acute myeloid leukaemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

"These particular cancers are very sensitive to the compound," says Ass Prof Lessene.

Haematologist Dr Andrew Wei from The Alfred Hospital, who also worked on the multi-national research project, says this is a major scientific breakthrough and it's only a matter of time before clinical trials begin.

"MCL1 represents one of the most important pillars of cancer survival and now that we have a drug that can knock that over and weaken cancer cells this really does open up the possiblity of doing clinical trials in the very near future," Dr Wei said.

Ultimately, millions of cancer sufferers could potentially benefit from this drug, he said.

"MCL1 is prevalent in a diverse range of cancers so we are literally talking about the possiblity of clininal trials in a huge spectrum of cancer types and potential benefits to a large number of cancer patients, far in excess of drugs which are very niche drugs that only focus on one particular disease."


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