WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Purdue researchers are working on what could be known as the next medical breakthrough. Right now, cancer is the second leading cause of death, but who knows if that'll be true a few years from now.
Professor Herman Sintim with Purdue's Department of Chemistry is working to reduce deaths caused by Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
“I am interested in Acute Myeloid Leukemia because it has one of the worst prognosis,” said Sintim.
To put it in perspective, if 100 people were diagnosed with AML right now, only 30 of them would still be alive in five years. And that number drops to 10 if you're over the age of 60.
“Clearly there is a need to come up with new drugs or new therapeutic modalities that improve the survival of Acute Myeloid Leukemia,” said Sintim.
AML is an aggressive cancer that attacks blood cells, which fight infections and diseases in our body. With AML, an infection as common as the flu could be deadly.
“We as molecular scientists developed chemicals that bind to this protein that drives the cancer, to shut the protein down,” said Sintim.
By shutting down the protein, the new drug is essentially slowing down the growth of the cancer.
This gives the blood cells a chance to gain strength and fight off all the infections in the body.
“Two years ago we realized that a few of our compounds were actually really good at killing the cells in a test tube and so that is when we transitioned to test the compounds in an animal model, which is mice,” said Sintim.
The compound cleared the cancer from the mice.
“That was when we knew that perhaps, we had developed something that not only works in a test tube but also works in an animal,” said Sintim.
The next step is a clinical trial. Sintim believes this drug has the potential to save many lives.
“If we can extend, you know, life by a few months, a few years or even a few decades, it would have far-reaching implications,” said Sintim.
The results of the study were published in the EBioMedicine journal Friday, Jan. 25. The website is globally recognized as a prestigious journal for up and coming drugs and technology.