Could this finally be a breakthrough for cancer patients?
A team of researchers at the University of Oxford in collaboration with U.K-based pharmaceutical company NuCana, have found a molecule in a Himalayan fungus that could help in killing cancer cells 40 times faster and with less harm as compared to existing chemotherapy medications. This new type of chemotherapy produced from the chemical has been found to be quite effective as an anti-cancer drug called NUC-7738. The new drug is still in the early stages of development so it’s still too early to tell if it would be a successful venture but the results look promising and might provide a new and improved therapy option for cancer patients in the future.
This new drug is made possible thanks to the active ingredient, cordycepin in NUC-7738. Cordycepin also known as 3’-deoxyadenosine (3’-dA) is a naturally occurring nucleoside analog that was first discovered in the parasitic fungus species Ophiocordyceps Sinensis located in the high mountain regions of China. It has been used as a herbal treatment for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and now scientists are discovering its anti-tumor properties as well. The parasite is found to exert anti-cancer, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects so it’s no surprise that it’s the most sought out fungus which has given it the title of the “worlds’ most valuable parasite”
But naturally occurring cordycepin isn’t effective in the human body, that’s where NUC-7738 comes in. According to the study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, NUC-7738 is developed in such a way that it allows cordycepin to enter cells without nucleotide transporters which enhances its anti-cancer capabilities. Similarly, NUC-7738 is pre-activated which makes it resistant to breaking down in the bloodstream as well which is a very useful advantage.
It won’t be long till the drug reaches Phase 2 for further testing, giving hope to cancer patients around the world.