Monday, September 13, 2010

Synthetic derivative of Retinoic acid can induce cell death

Retinoic acid (RA), a natural derivative of vitamin A, is the basis of a number of treatments against cancer. Nevertheless, it has certain disadvantages, such as the possibility of the appearance of retinoic acid syndrome, present in 25 % of cases and which can lead to death. The development of 4-HPR (see structure -Fenretinide 4-hydroxy(phenyl)retinamide) a synthetic derivative of RA, has meant a considerable advance due to its greater efficacy compared to its predecessor. It is able to induce the death of tumour cells as the method for reducing their proliferation, in a precise manner and without serious damage to surrounding tissue. Moreover, it halts the referred-to retinoic acid syndrome and even functions with cells that resist RA. In vitro studies corroborate its effectiveness as a chemopreventive agent and also as a chemotherapeutic agent, both with leukaemias and with ovary, breast or brain tumour cells.

Biologist Ms Aintzane Apraiz studied the 4-HPR in depth, focusing on the causes that, according to previous research, give rise to this ability to induce cell death. To this end, she applied this synthetic derivative to acute lymphoblastic leukaemia T cells (LLA-T). Her PhD thesis, defended at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), is entitled Role of sphingolipids and oxidative stress in the antineoplasic activity of 4-HPR: study in a leucemia model.

Amongst the various processes that can induce cell death, in the case of 4-HPR, apoptosis is outstanding; a precise mechanism and without inflammatory processes or serious damage to surrounding tissue. According to Ms Apraiz, previous research on LLA-T undertaken by the team of which she is a member, showed that 4-HPR induced a massive accumulation of ceramides (lipids of the cell membrane) and of reactive oxygen species (ROS), both of which can cause cell death. 


No comments: