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Pharmaceutical sciences faculty, student publish cancer research in medicinal chemistry journal

Published: 08 August 2013

Shuang Zhou, a doctoral research student, and Erxi Wu, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, have co-written two papers to be published in Current Medicinal Chemistry.

“Salinomycin: A novel anti-cancer agent with known anti-coccidial activities” summarizes the pharmacologic effects of salinomycin and presents possible mechanisms by which salinomycin exerts its anti-tumorigenic activities. According to the authors, salinomycin, traditionally used as an anti-coccidial drug, has recently been shown to possess anti-cancer and anti-cancer stem cell effects, as well as activities to overcome multi-drug resistance based on studies using human cancer cell lines, xenograft mice, and in case reports involving cancer patients in pilot clinical trials. Therefore, salinomycin may be considered as a promising novel anti-cancer agent despite its largely unknown mechanism of action.

The second paper, titled “Thalidomide–a notorious sedative to a wonder anticancer drug,” summarizes the biological effects and therapeutic uses of thalidomide and its analogues, and the underlying mechanisms of thalidomide’s action with a focus on its suppression of tumor growth.

“In the past 50 years, thalidomide has undergone a remarkable metamorphosis from a drug noted for inducing birth defects into a highly effective therapy for treating leprosy and multiple myeloma,” said Fengfei Wang, senior research associate of pharmaceutical sciences and the paper’s co-senior writer. “Today, most notably, thalidomide and its analogues have been shown to exert efficacy against a wide variety of diseases, such as inflammation and cancer. The mechanisms underlying its teratogenicity as well as its anticancer activities have been intensively studied.”

Wu added, “Binding targets of thalidomide have been recently found by another group, but the binding targets of salinomycin are not known. Identification of salinomycin direct targets in cancer or cancer stem cells will provide critical information to understand its underlying mechanism. Such knowledge will provide new insight into cancer therapy, a theoretical base for the use of salinomycin as anti-cancer agent and allow for rapid screening for potentially therapeutic compounds with high potency and minimal side effects. We plan to issue our exciting results about this aspect shortly.”

“We also would like to take this opportunity to thank two COBRE centers, Center for Visual and Cognitive Neuroscience and Center for Protease Research at NDSU, for their supporting our research,” Wu said.

Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews and original research articles written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry.

Wu’s laboratory research interests include cancer therapeutic targets, drug target proteins, drug discovery and biomarkers. For more information, visit

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Last Updated: Sunday, August 25, 2013