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Noticias Unisimón

Unisimón researchers look for alternatives to chemotherapy

Noviembre 05, 2020

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Unisimón researchers look for alternatives to chemotherapy

From the study of quercetin, researchers from the Molecular simulation and bioinformatics Laboratory, from  Simón Bolívar University , and the Vegetal Pharmacology and Alternative Therapeutics group from   Juan N. Corpas University, look for a new drug to replace chemotherapy and radiotherapy as treatments to fight cancer.

 Juvenal Yosa Reyes, Unisimón, laboratory director, and Carolina Clavijo, researcher at the university Juan N. Corpas, say that this scientific project emerged from the knowledge of plant extracts as possible adjuvants in the fight against the disease that is the second leading cause of death in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Quercetin is a flavonoid compound that can be found in onions, red wine, green tea, apples, raspberries and ginkgo biloba. Its importance is that it inhibits the protein HSP90, which appears in tumor cells and helps them to reproduce.

“If this protein is blocked, the cancer cells begin to die, in a process called apoptosis”, explains Yosa, Phd in chemistry who leads this work along with Clavijo.

 Previous studies have shown that natural products in high concentrations can contribute to anticancer procedures.  This is the case of extracts from Aname (Petiveriaalliacea) and Dividivi (Casesalpiniacoriaria), which according to a a research from Pontificia Javeriana University, are effective against breast cancer, melanoma and leukemia, by reducing the size of tumors or encapsulating them.

The work of the  Molecular simulation and bioinformatics laboratory   from  Unisimón would be a novelty, from the two objectives it seeks. On the one hand, to obtain a more efficient compound that allows small doses of molecules derived from the quercetin to stop the proliferation of the cancerous cells, due to the inhibition of the protein HSP90.

"It would be transcendental to synthesize the new compound that we propose, it would be totally new by the modifications that are achieved”, said Yosa. 

The second achievement would be to establish a new method to fight cancer and replace chemotherapy, which are aggressive for human health because they attack both the tumor cells and the good ones. "The goal is not to contribute, but to create a new form of cancer treatment, and to improve the quality of life for both patients and their families," emphasized the expert

This could be possible because, through the use of computational tools, there were already simulations of how quercetin and HSP90 interacts, to discover the molecular mechanisms that allow these flavonoids to join the protein

 By means of the technique called "design of fragments-based drugs", in the Unisimón laboratory, 1.5 million compounds were obtained that, through a computer, will be subjected to simulation to determine which ones can interact with the HSP90 more effectively. The purpose is to find 10 to 20 compounds that, like quercetin, can fulfill the same function and then perform laboratory tests (in vitro).

 "Of those 10 or 20, we expect that at least 50% will  work to move on researching with animals and if everything works well, the next step would be working with human beings," said the leading researcher.


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PBX +57 (5) 344 4333.
Fax : +57 (5) 3682892

Extended Programs in Cúcuta
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P.B.X: +57 (7) 582 7070
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