Parker Hughes Cancer Center

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Parker Hughes Institute scientists develop new class of anti-cancer drugs

June 27, 2000, St. Paul, Minn. -- Scientists from the Parker Hughes Institute announce the development of a new class of anti-cancer drugs that are effective against breast cancer and brain tumor cells. The results of this research are reported in this month's issue of Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters.

These Cobra compounds, appropriately named because its shape resembles the head of a Cobra snake, attach to a vital substance found inside cancer cells. The compounds are designed to target a previously unrecognized binding cavity on the surface of cancer cells. Once attached to the cells they destroy the cell structures and cause cell death. The activity of these compounds is identical to that of a drug which is found in the Indonesian forest. "We are very excited about the potential of these new agents," said Dr. Fatih Uckun, director, Parker Hughes Institute. "Unlike the natural products that must be harvested from the rain forest, these compounds can be prepared in large quantities in the laboratory and made available to treat patients."

The United States Patent Office has allowed a patent for this technology. It is anticipated that the new Cobra-1 agent will be available for clinical trials within the next 6-12 months. Reference: Jan ST, Mao C, Vassilev A, Navara C, Uckun FM. Cobra-1, a rationally-designed epoxy-THF containing compound with potent tubulin depolymerizing activity as a novel anti-cancer agent. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters. 10(11):1193-7, 2000.

The Parker Hughes Institute, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a non-profit research organization dedicated to eradicating cancer, AIDS, and diseases of the immune system.