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Molecular Sensor to Detect if Cancer Drug is Working

Being able to monitor the chemical content of cancer cells may help scientists develop new anti-cancer medications. Additionally, it may also lead to personalized drug therapies for cancer patients that all too often end up trying multiple medications before finding one that works. Chemists at MIT have come up with just such a tool for so-called redox medications, which are drugs that aim to increase hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) concentrations inside of cancer cells.

Redox drugs can either promote the production of H2O2, or they act to reduce the production of antioxidants that help to rescue cells from high levels of H2O2. In clinical studies, redox drugs have tended to work better on some people than on others, probably because of the unique differences of each patient’s tumor.

The MIT team, in order to better understand redox drugs and how they work on different cancers, tinkered with the peroxiredoxin protein, a molecule that can detect changes in H2Olevels, adding two fluorescent proteins to it. One of the proteins fluoresces green, and is attached at one end of the peroxiredoxin, while the other produces a red color and is attached at the opposite end of the peroxiredoxin molecule.

When this new molecule interacts with hydrogen peroxide, its shape changes, and the two fluorescent tips move closer or farther away from each other. This shift can be detected by sensing a color change when the molecule is forced to fluoresce before and after the reaction.

Open access study in Nature Communications: Monitoring the action of redox-directed cancer therapeutics using a human peroxiredoxin-2-based probe…

Via: MIT…



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