TWU Biology Team Granted a Patent for Anti-Cancer Compounds That Could Save Lives

The novel invention from researchers at Texas Woman’s University in Denton could greatly contribute to cancer treatment research. The compounds can prevent the growth of breast, lung, and colon cancer cells.

A biology team at Texas Woman’s University in Denton has officially patented three compounds that are said to prevent the growth of human breast, lung, and colon cancer cells.

The novel invention could greatly contribute to innovating traditional cancer treatments, as research is currently underway to assess the compounds’ full potential. The plan is to study the compounds when they are delivered at higher concentrations and directly to the tumor site.

In the future, Holly Hansen-Thomas, the TWU vice provost for Research and Innovation, said this has the potential to save lives.

The biology team, led by TWU Associate Professor Michael Bergel, discovered that the compounds could inhibit breast, lung, and colon cancer cells in very low concentrations without killing healthy human cells at the same concentration, according to a TWU release.

The compounds, called bisamidoximes,’ demonstrated that when combined, they prevented the growth of cultured colon cancer cells more effectively when used with a commercially available chemotherapy drug. Only one of the compounds was effective in shrinking breast cancer tumors in mice.

TWU Associate Professor Michael Bergel draws the structure of his team’s patented anti-cancer compounds. [Photo: Michael Modecki]

Bergel calls these results—and the granted patent—a momentous achievement. He and the team spent years of experimental work followed by two years navigating the patent process.

“Colleagues, former and current doctoral students, and many undergraduate researchers all joined forces and worked tirelessly,” he said in a statement. I’m also grateful for the Texas Higher Education Advanced Research Program grant and TWU’s Research Enhancement Program funding, which allowed us to reach this milestone.”  

In additional to Bergel, the co-inventors on the patent are: TWU biology doctoral program alumni Sudheer Dhanireddy, and Amon Gekombe; the late James Johnson, former TWU professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and Johnson’s former student, Debra Dolliver, a professor of chemistry at the University of Alabama.

According to the team, Johnson and Dolliver were the ones that synthesized the bisamidoximes for their analysis.

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