A chemist from Purdue University has found a way to synthesize a compound to fight a previously “undruggable” cancer protein with benefits across a myriad of cancer types.
Inspired by a rare compound found in a shrub native to North America, Mingji Dai, professor of chemistry and a scientist at the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research, studied the compound and discovered a cost-effective and efficient way to synthesize it in the lab. The compound — curcusone D — has the potential to help combat a protein found in many cancers, including some forms of breast, brain, colorectal, prostate, lung and liver cancers, among others. The protein, dubbed BRAT1, had previously been deemed “undruggable” for its chemical properties. In collaboration with Alexander Adibekian’s group at the Scripps Research Institute, they linked curcusone D to BRAT1 and validated curcusone D as the first BRAT1 inhibitor.