Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug given to more than half of all cancer patients. The drug kills cells very effectively by damaging nuclear DNA, but if tumors become resistant to cisplatin they often grow back.
A new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Toronto offers a possible way to overcome that resistance. The researchers found that when cisplatin was delivered to cellular structures called mitochondria, DNA in this organelle was damaged, leading to cancer cell death. Moreover, the mitochondrial-targeted drug could overcome cisplatin resistance.
“These results suggest that the mitochondria can be an important target for platinum-based drugs,” said Robert Radford, an MIT postdoc and an author of a paper describing the findings in the Oct. 31 online edition of the journal Chemistry & Biology.
Mitochondria-targeting cisplatin might also be effective at lower doses than regular cisplatin, helping to avoid some of the severe side effects often seen with the drug, according to the researchers.
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