Maurizio Pellecchia, Ph.D.
Professor, Apoptosis and Cell Death
Cancer researchers are looking for places where they can intervene to stop malignancies in their tracks. Bcl-2 proteins have been prime targets because of their anti-apoptic effects. Dr. Maurizio Pellecchia’s laboratory, in collaboration with Dr. John Reed, has been working with Gossypol, a natural product extracted from cottonseeds and an effective pro-apoptotic compound. The lab modified Gossypol to improve its ability to target Bcl-2, increasing its anti-cancer properties and reducing its toxicity.
Dr. Pellecchia’s research strongly suggests that this new compound, Apogossypol, has great potential as a cancer treatment. In addition to spurring cancer cells to commit suicide, as they should, the compound also makes them less resistant to chemotherapy. Apogossypol may eventually be used to maximize the efficacy of various chemotherapies. Dr. Pellecchia’s laboratory has also discovered novel derivatives of Apogossypol with markedly improved stability, efficacy and safety in cell cultures and mouse models of cancer. Clinical trials are expected to begin in the near future.
Bcl-XI, a member of the Bcl-2 protein
family, helps keep cancer cells alive.