Wonder drug in the making?

Author: John Monczunski

Someday SB-3CT might save your life. The collection of letters and numbers is chemical shorthand for a novel compound that has shown promise in stopping cancer spread and lessening the effects of a stroke.

Designed and synthesized by Notre Dame Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Shahriar Mobashery and his colleagues, the compound has the ability to inhibit two enzymes, MMP-2 and MMP-9 (MMP is short for matrix metalloproteinase), which have been implicated in metastasis, the mechanism of cancer spread, and in brain tissue death due to stroke.

In cancer, the enzymes appear integral to the process that causes some tumor cells to begin “chewing up” their surrounding matrix, allowing them to break into the body’s circulatory systems and migrate to other organs and establish secondary tumors. While its precise function in strokes is unclear, MMP-9 has been implicated in damage to the brain when blood flow to the brain is interrupted during a stroke. In tests with animal models for cancer, SB-3CT has shown success in significantly slowing metastasis, Mobashery says. Likewise, in animal model tests for stroke the compound has significantly lessened damage.