A team of researchers at the University of Findlay in Ohio led by Indian American scientist Dr. Rahul Khupse has found a possible cancer breakthrough with its recent findings.
While statistics show that nearly 40 percent of all Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes, Khupse and a team of pharmacy students are working on a new groundbreaking treatment for one of the deadliest forms: Glioblastoma.
Glioblastoma is the most aggressive form of brain cancer that develops in the brain or spinal cord and is nearly impossible to remove. Experts say the five-year survival rate is less than 10 percent, a local NBC media outlet reported.
"What they have right now is great in terms of glioblastoma, but it's not enough in terms of survival rates that you're seeing," said Jacob Reyes, a UF College of Pharmacy graduate student researcher, the report said.
UF researchers believe they have created a drug to improve that statistic.
"Looking at activity we've seen from drug compounds treating glioblastoma in the past, we've kind of used a molecule called chalcone, that's just a type of drug molecule, but it's something actually found in curry I guess, the food curry," said Reyes in the report.
The compound called chalcone is most commonly found in curry, the popular Indian food.
Khupse is a medicinal chemist working on the project at UF. He grew up in India and said that he discovered chalcone has anti-inflammatory properties as well as anti-cancer properties, according to the media outlet
"In my grad school I had worked on natural products and that was kind of like an inspiration for making this designer drug," Khupse explained in the report. So his team worked to develop a new compound that they've nicknamed "RK-15."
One of the major breakthroughs about this compound is its selectivity to target only the brain cancer cells while sparing the healthy cells, it said.
"Selectivity is the holy grail of cancer therapy because we know that chemotherapy has a lot of side effects. So how do we achieve that selectivity where our compounds can only kill brain cancer, glioblastoma, and spare the normal brain?" said Khupse.
Khupse said that "RK-15" also penetrates the brain-blood barrier, or BBB, which is the brain's defense system, while also targeting the resistant cancer cells, according to the NBC report.
The team of researchers said this makes "RK-15" 100 times more selective towards the infectious cancer cells.
Researchers said the next step is to test on animals, then continue clinical testing on humans before it could get approved by the FDA.
They said it typically takes 10 to 15 years for a new drug to get from the lab to the patient. The team at the University of Findlay is on year two, the report said.