The front cover image of Chemistry A European Journal depicts NUI Galway compound MGSTA-6 giving a stop signal to tumour cells on the move.
Nov 06 2015 Posted: 10:50 GMT

Journal publishes results of Irish and European research study related to drug discovery for metastatic cancer

Researchers from the School of Chemistry and School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, and Warsaw University of Life Sciences have worked together on a study that could help in the development of a new therapy for metastatic cancer. Their work was published today (6 November 2015), in Chemistry A European Journal, and features as the front cover article.

Metastatic cancer occurs when tumour cells migrate or metastasise from a primary tumour to other sites leading to secondary tumours, and this is the main cause of death from cancer. Synthesis is used by chemists to build compounds or materials for wide ranging applications. This study has involved NUI Galway researchers working out synthesis pathways to new analogues of migrastatin as potential blockers of metastasis or tumour cell migration. The researchers showed that some of the new compounds, such as MGSTA-6, exhibited the ability to block tumour cell migration in the laboratory.

Professor Paul Murphy, Head of the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, and his team collaborated with Corrado Santocanale, Professor of Molecular Medicine from the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway. Professor Santocanale’s core research is related to cancer therapeutics and an assay for this research was established in his laboratory. Professor Magdalena Krol and her team from the Warsaw University of Life Sciences also contributed to the research through a biological study of the compounds prepared. The latter collaboration came about as a result of a COST Networking Action, StemChem, where both Professor Murphy and Professor Krol are members.

Professor Paul Murphy said: “The research demonstrates the value of Synthetic Chemistry, which can be used to produce compounds not made by Nature and which instead are inspired by Nature. This provides valuable new compounds for drug discovery projects. The research shows the importance of chemists working together with cancer biologists to investigate properties of newly generated products.”

The first author of the article, Dr Daniele Lo Re, a researcher with Professor Murphy’s team at NUI Galway, explains, “One of the compounds synthesised, MGSTA-6, showed evidence that it has a low risk of displaying adverse side effects.”

The research to isolate migrastatin, a structurally complex natural product, first occurred in the early 2000’s in Japan, and this initially highlighted the potential of this natural product as a blocker of metastasis. Subsequently research from the Samuel Danishefsky Laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York led to the finding that simpler migrastatin analogues could inhibit tumour metastasis in the laboratory.

This research study was funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the European Regional Development Fund, Poland’s National Science Centre, the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme and COST (a European framework supporting trans-national cooperation among researchers, engineers and scholars across Europe).

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