Potential new cancer therapy targets centrosomes of tumor cells

By Karla Gale

BOSTON, Massachusetts (Reuters Health) – Crystallizing the centrosome of tumor cells could be a potential cancer therapy, according to a presentation given here at the 168th Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Qing Z. Kong, of Cocid Corporation in Denver, Colorado, and associates reported that tetrazolium salts concentrate on the centrosomes of tumor cells but not normal, healthy cells. This is presumably because of the high expression of succinate dehydrogenase or other reductive enzymes located on tumor centrosomes, the investigators speculated.

Using DNA analysis, Dr. Kong's team found that centrosome crystallization irreversibly blocks cells from entering S phase and inhibits the activities and expression of major antioxidants, such as superoxide dismutase and catalase.

Tetrazolium violet forms visible water-insoluble crystals on centrosomes within 4 to 6 hours, Dr. Kong told Reuters Health. Growth is then irreversibly inhibited in the tumor cells, which become greatly sensitized to cytotoxic agents. The cell death the investigators observed, which they dubbed "cellular organelle crystallization-induced death," differed in morphology and biochemistry from that due to necrosis or apoptosis.

"These observations provide first direct evidence suggesting that the centrosome is required for initiation and/or regulation of both DNA synthesis and apoptosis," the investigators write in their presentation abstract.

Therapy with tetrazolium salts would be a unique cancer strategy in that it does not inhibit expressed proteins or pathways, but instead "attacks the 'brain' of the cell itself," Dr. Kong told Reuters Health.

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