News Release 

New drug that can prevent the drug resistance and adverse effects

Activated in cancer cells to simultaneously release a drug-resistance inhibitor and anticancer drug; anticipating the development of a new non-toxic cancer-specific drug-drug nanoparticle that does not cause any adverse effects

National Research Council of Science & Technology

Research News


IMAGE: This cancer cell specific anti-cancer drug precursor (SMAC-FRG-DOX) formed itself by hydrophobic interaction within the molecule without the use of additional polymers and drug carriers, and is optionally activated by... view more 

Credit: Korea Institue of Science and Technology(KIST)

Although the diverse treatment methods developed to effectively treat cancer, chemotherapy using anticancer agents has been proven especially effective in many clinical applications. Above all, it is more affordable than other treatment methods and is effective against most types of cancer, which is why it is most common approach to treat disease.

However, drug resistance in cancer cells significantly reduces the effectiveness and sensitivity of chemotherapy, leading to recurrence and treatment failure. Cancer cells inherently have resistance against anticancer agents, and even the ones that are highly responsive to chemotherapy may develop resistance in the course of treatment.

A research team in Korea is garnering attention for having developed an anticancer drug that could potentially prevent drug resistance. The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) announced that a team of researchers led by Dr. Kwang-meyung Kim at the Theragnosis research center successfully developed a cancer-specific anticancer drug precursor that can prevent the drug resistance.

The research team came up with a new drug by conjugating a drug that inhibits resistance against anticancer drugs (SMAC) and an anticancer agent (Doxorubicin). The resulting drug remains inactive status in the body until it encounters a cancer cell and reacts with an enzyme (cathepsin B) that is overexpressed in cancer cells. In cancer cells, it specifically releases the anticancer agent along with the drug-resistance inhibitor to effectively treat cancers without concerns of drug resistance.

As a result, it can inhibit not only the inherent drug resistance of cancer cells as well as the aquired drug resistance that cancer cells can develop during chemotherapy. This will make it possible to administer effective treatment without any potential recurrence or treatment failure.

Also, cathepsin B, the enzyme that allows the drug to react with cancer cells, is produced in relatively small amounts in normal cells. As a result, the drug-drug nanoparticles remains inactive status and they not release the drugs in normal cells, which will reduce the side effects associated with conventional chemotherapy.

Dr. Kim from KIST said, "The cancer-specific drug-drug nanoparticles effectively inhibit drug resistance that lead to treatment failures in conventional chemotherapy and at the same time reduce toxicity in normal cells, so it is expected that it'll be possible to use it as a new anticancer agent that can prevent the drug resistance and adverse effects."


This study was carried out with a grant from the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT), as part of the Institutional R&D Program of KIST and the Mid-Career Researcher Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea. The findings were reported in the latest edition of the international journal, Biomaterials (IF:10.317, Top 2.6% in the field of JCR).

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