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Reprogramming Cancer Cells to Die a Natural Death

Cheryl A. Thompson

By selectively activating an enzyme in cancerous cells and ignoring normal cells, the investigational drug sulindac sulfone triggers an orderly sequence of events leading to cancer cell death, researchers recently reported.

Cyclic GMP (cGMP) plays an important role in apoptosis, or programmed cell death, a pathway gone awry in cancer cells.

Sulindac sulfone, also known as Exisuland, blocks the action of cGMP phosphodiesterase, reported Cell Pathways Inc. scientists and collaborators at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in San Francisco. This blockade leads to a build-up of cGMP, which in turn activates cGMP-dependent protein kinase in colon cancer cells and precancerous colonic polyps. Apoptosis ensues.

The Horsham, Pa.-based company said it filed last August for Food and Drug Administration approval of the drug.