Drug resistance is a huge problem. Developing a cancer drug is one thing but when a patient’s cancer changes while taking that medication, it knocks treatment back to square one. In fact, recurring cancers with a different genetic make-up to the original tumors cause the vast majority of cancer fatalities. Researchers are now trying to target the mechanisms that cause these changes in cancer cells so patients can remain on the medication that was working for them. Scientists have now successfully identified how to slow a process in our body called mutagenic translesion synthesis (MTS) which contributes to drug resistance.
They found out MTS is triggered by the action of an enzyme called PEV1-POLζ and then designed a drug molecule that fits into that enzyme to stop the process in its tracks. The drug, which they call JH-RE-06, was added to several different cancer cell samples along with different cancer medicines before investigating the drug’s action in mice. It seems to improve how sensitively tumors respond to some cancer medicines and slows tumor growth, which increases the survival rate of the mice. This discovery is a promising step towards reducing the incidence of drug resistance in a few types of cancer. Hopefully in the future scientists will be able to predict how some cancers typically change over time and use these corrective drugs like JH-RE-06 to prevent patients having to change medication.