Main Content

Raucher, Bidwell patented process may halt metastasis

Published on Thursday, August 24, 2017

By: Cynthia Wall

Two University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute members, Dr. Drazen Raucher and Dr. Gene Bidwell, have received a patent on a process that potentially can halt cancer metastasis.

Most deaths from cancer occur when it spreads or metastasizes beyond the organ where it started. This process would prevent cancer cells from migrating to other organs or from attaching to new healthy tissue in them.

The lab, in work begun six to seven years ago, developed a cell penetrating peptide, or CPP, attached to an elastin-like polypeptide, or ELP. In tests conducted in the lab and in mice, the CPP and ELP did not work when used alone. But when used together, they halted metastasis.

Testing shows both block the cancer cell’s ability to connect to healthy tissue and therefore promotes   cancer cell death; and limit cancer cell ability to migrate to new, healthy tissue.

Raucher said the research group tested multiple cell penetrating peptides before settling on two that were most promising.

After attaching those to an ELP, they tested them in mice on ovarian cancer cells. They tested the combination in vitro on breast, melanoma and ovarian cancer. It worked in each.

The CPP-ELP coats the cancer cell “door” so it can’t attach to healthy cells. One CPP is better at promoting cancer cell apoptosis; another is better at halting migration. Neither works with cancer cells that are already attached, so Raucher said ideally, they’d be given along with therapy to destroy existing tumor cells. One therapy would work against cancer cells already within an organ, the other on tumor cells that try to migrate to new tissue.

Long term, Raucher said, “We would propose its use at same time as first line therapy to prevent metastasis.”

Currently, his lab is collaborating with the Mayo Clinic to further test the process.

“This very exciting work that may be ready for clinical trials in the next few years,” said Dr. John Ruckdeschel, Cancer Institute director.

Raucher is a professor of biochemistry, and Bidwell is an associate professor of neurology at UMMC.