Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Where is the Red Devil?

Currently there is a shortage of the Red Devil due to increase demand. It is used against many other cancers other than BC. In some cases, other drugs had to be substituted. The jury is still out whether the Red Devil is the best treatment for TNBC, some say cis-Platin but there is a shortage of that too, but it is still considered the standard treatment. What it does is interfere with the replication of fast growing cells by interacting with the DNA, perfect against fast growing tumors such as triple negative BC. Unfortunately it is not specific to interfering with cancer cells, it stops the replication of all fast growing cells such as blood cells, hair cells, inside the digestive system cells...the patient thus ends up bald, full of mouth sores, nauseous, heart burn ridden, anemic, neutropenic ( low white blood count.) Fun times!

Adriamycin (one of the Red Devil's many names) is a natural product. Drug companies used to screen soil samples for both antibiotic and anticancer activity. The Red Devil was found in Italy during the 50s. Chemists are able to synthesize it but it has 5 chiral centers making that a royal pain. They are able to isolate it from fermentation broths of a particular strain of  streptomyces bacteria.

What a medicinal chemist does is take a molecule that is active and try to improve on it. This has been tried by many companies including our own. Much of the focus has been on the 3 rings on the left which is thought to contain most of the activity. Also that three ring system is relatively easy to synthesize. You can take off some of those -OH groups, replace them with other groups, etc. You can replace the middle double bonded Os with other entities. (googling me will show early papers with acridine based compounds, all futile  attempts to improve upon adriamycin). At any rate, many, many attempts have been made to improve upon the Red Devil but look what they are still using.

It looks so pretty outside but it is so cold. My throat felt a bit scratchy so I am taking a day off from exercising. To be useful, I finally have tackled the coat closet. I have removed all the baseball and soft ball mitts, various athletic footwear of people who no longer live here, coats no one would wear, shoes that no one would wear..For some reason, I find it easier to do these projects while Steve is away at work. For one thing, I can throw certain things away without complaints. Lots of projects left for me to do, of course. It's been a while since all the glassware on display has been washed, too much 1970s style ceramics on display (what was I thinking?). While working, I had very little time to do all this and much of my free time was devoted to following the kids around with their various travel teams. Now I don't have much excuse though the year that I dealt with cancer really, really took a lot out of me.

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