‘Smart Bomb’ delivery destroys tumors in mice

January 6, 2004 | Source: KurzweilAI

Weizmann Institute scientists have destroyed malignant tumors in mice using allicin, a chemical that occurs naturally in garlic.

To zero in on the targeted tumor, scientists took advantage of the fact that most types of cancer cells exhibit distinctive receptors on their surfaces. An antibody that is “programmed” to recognize the tumor’s characteristic receptor is chemically bound to the enzyme alliinase. Injected into the bloodstream, the antibody seeks out these cells and lodges itself and its passenger enzyme on the tumor cells. The scientists then inject the second component, alliin, at intervals.

When it encounters the alliinase, the resulting reaction turns the normally inert alliin molecules into lethal allicin molecules, which penetrate and kill the tumor cells. Due to the precise delivery system, neighboring, healthy cells remain intact.

Using this method, the team succeeded in blocking the growth of gastric tumors in mice. The tumor-inhibiting effects were seen up to the end of the experimental period, long after the internally produced allicin was spent. The scientists note that the method could work for most types of cancer, as long as a specific antibody can be customized to recognize receptors unique to the cancer cells. The technique could prove invaluable for preventing metastasis following surgery.