Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS



Project ID: 618358
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: United Kingdom

New anti-cancer drugs

European researchers investigated a novel anti-cancer approach by inducing salt influx into cancer cells.
New anti-cancer drugs
Cell homeostasis, among others, entails the strict regulation of ion transport across cells through specific ion channels. Malfunction of these transporters can lead to homeostasis deregulation and disease, such as cystic fibrosis. In addition, impaired H+/Cl- symport in lysosomes induces alterations in pH and cytoplasmic acidification, an early event in apoptosis. However, cancer cells overcome programmed cell death by changing the way they transport ions across membranes. Therefore, synthetic ion transporters constitute attractive tools for triggering apoptosis in cancer cells.

With this in mind, scientists on the EU-funded TRANSCLCONDREG (Arylpyrrole-based transmembrane transporters for induced chloride regulation in cystic fibrosis epithelial cells) project set out to address the need for synthetic compounds that can facilitate transmembrane chloride transport in live cells. The rationale was to design compounds that could selectively alter ion transport in cancer cells and induce them to die.

Researchers observed that chloride transporters could collaborate with sodium channels in cell membranes to cause an influx of salt into a cell, thus initiating programmed cell death. They synthesised various molecules and tested their efficacy in transporting ions. One such compound exhibited promising cytotoxic activity and over four-fold selectivity against breast cancer cells.

Taken together, the results of the TRANSCLCONDREG study demonstrate a novel approach for inducing apoptosis in cancer cells. Synthetic compounds that modulate salt influx in cancer cells constitute a new class of anti-cancer agents with great promise.

Related information


Life Sciences


Cancer, salt, ion transport, cystic fibrosis, apoptosis
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