Drug-resistant Ovarian Cancer Cells Killed by Nullomer Peptide Drugs

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Student Presentation

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Faculty Sponsor

Greg Hampikian


The typical chemotherapy of cancer is focused mainly on stopping cellular proliferation, and therefore targets DNA replication and cell division. It is hindered by many shortcomings including side effects, chemo-resistance, and the fact that it has no effect on quiescent cancer stem cells. We are working on a new paradigm for cancer treatment focusing on metabolism and energy production (ATP) using peptide (protein) drugs based on Nullomers (sequences not found in nature). Nullomers were first identified at Boise State University (patent pending).

The Hampikian lab published the first paper using Nullomer drugs against cancer cells (Alileche et al, Peptides 2012, 38, 302-311). This paper focused on three Nullomer peptides (NulloPs) 9R (RRRRRNWMWC), 9S1R (RRRRRWCMNW) and 124R (RRRRRWFMHW), employed against breast and prostate cancer cells. Two of the NulloPs are promising anti cancer drugs (9R and 9S1). In an effort to further explore the anti cancer effects of these drugs, we have expanded our testing to 60 cancer cell lines found in the National Cancer Institute 60 cancer cell lines panel.

Preliminary results show that a drug resistant ovarian cancer cell line NCI/ADR-RES (also known as OVCAR-8) is sensitive to 9R and 9S1R. The same cell line is resistant to Adriamycin, and is therefore representative of clinically challenging cases of ovarian cancer.

This new finding shows that NulloPs can overcome drug resistance, probably by targeting the mitochondria.

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