Scientists from the USA have discovered a molecule that inhibits the growth and metastasis of pancreatic cancer cells. Their study is published in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

The molecule is called MMRi62 and has an unusual property: it is capable of iron metabolism and kills cancer cells and harmful proteins that lead to the formation of metastases. The authors are confident that further development and improvement of this compound can lead to a new type of pancreatic cancer therapy.

“MMRI62 causes degradation of an iron-storing protein called FTH1, as well as a protein that has mutated into PDAC, which leads to cell death caused by free cellular iron,” said Xinjiang Wang, associate professor of pharmacology and therapy at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The process of death of pancreatic cancer cells from free cellular iron, called ferroptosis, is considered an important area of research in medicine, because pancreatic cancer is resistant to chemotherapy and extremely aggressive. According to the specialists of the Roswell Park Center, only in 12% of cases patients with pancreatic cancer live longer than five years.

“We have shown that in a preclinical model, MMRi62 is able to provoke ferroptosis in pancreatic cancer cells carrying KRAS or TP53 mutations. This, in turn, stops the growth of the tumor and prevents the appearance of metastases in other organs,” Dr. Wang summed up.