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Health Center Today, September 7, 2010

Researchers Find Compound That Could Disarm Cancer Cells

By Chris DeFrancesco

Photo of Joan Caron

Joan Caron

Health Center cell biologist Joan Caron has identified a new compound that disarms aggressive metastatic cancer cells in mouse models instead of trying to destroy them.

Caron, assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology, led a study that rendered malignant cells irreversibly harmless after exposure to the compound methyl sulfone. Caron has a patent pending for methyl sulfone as a drug for this purpose.

“This research confirmed my belief that the transformation of a normal cell into a cancerous cell is not a one-way street; in other words, with this drug I believe we can teach deadly metastatic cancer cells to transform back into healthy normal cells,” Caron says.

Her co-investigators in the Department of Cell Biology included research assistant Marissa Bannon and medical students Lindsay Rosshirt, Jessica Luis and Luke Monteagudo. Their findings are published in the August issue of PLoS ONE, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal.