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Synthetic, natural drug cocktail can combat cancer

Posted on Feb 13, 10:24AM | IANS

Houston, Feb 12 : Synthetic drug in combination with naturally occurring toxins can fight cancer and drug-resistant bacteria, says a study by American researchers.

Cancer researchers from Rice University suggest that a new human-made drug that is already proven effective at killing cancer and drug-resistant bacteria could best deliver its knockout blow when used in combination with drugs made from naturally occurring toxins.

"One of the oldest tricks in fighting is the one-two punch -- you distract your opponent with one attack and deliver a knockout blow with another. Combinatorial drug therapies employ that strategy at a cellular level," said Jose Onuchic of Rice's Centre for Theoretical Biological Physics (CTBP).

CTBP team's ideas appear this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Scientists expect that by combining drugs, particularly those that place stress on different parts of the cell, it will be possible to knock out either cancer cells or bacteria while simultaneously inhibiting their ability to become drug-resistant, reports Science Daily.

Naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are chemical weapons that bacteria themselves have developed over millions of years in their never-ending war among themselves.

The team reasons that combining these natural toxins with human-made mirror drugs will create the drug equivalent of a one-two punch. The combination should "confuse" bacteria and cancer and prevent them from rapidly becoming resistant to the human-made drugs.

The Rice team suggests maximising the benefits of synthetic AMPs by using them in drug cocktails that act like a one-two punch for either bacteria or cancer.