Researchers at The University of Texas at El Paso have identified a novel pharmaceutical compound that successfully kills leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells, potentially paving the way for new forms of therapy.
Renato Aguilera, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, is the principal investigator on the project that identified the promising compound, called thiophene F-8. His team’s findings were recently published in the research journal PLOS One.
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells while lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system. As part of their research into potential treatment of these cancers, Aguilera’s lab screened drug compounds to determine their impact on various cancer cell types. Pharmaceutical companies generate millions of compounds and their full range of uses is often unclear or unknown, Aguilera said. Some of these companies sell the generated compounds as chemical libraries, which researchers like Aguilera can then study to determine the precise effect of the compounds on human cells.
“The hardest part of this kind of research is figuring out what exactly a drug does,” said Aguilera who also serves as director of the Research Infrastructure Core of UTEP’s Border Biomedical Research Center.
As part of the project, the UTEP team tested 1,300 different compounds on cultures of human cancer cells.
Mia Swain, Ph.D., helped discover and conduct research on thiophene F-8 as a doctoral student at UTEP. Swain graduated from UTEP in December of 2022 with a doctoral degree in biological sciences and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
The UTEP team will continue studying the effectiveness of Thiophene F-8. If the drug is successful in further testing, Aguilera said, pharmaceutical companies may one day launch clinical studies to determine the compound’s effect on patients.
The University of Texas at El Paso is America’s leading Hispanic-serving university. Located at the westernmost tip of Texas, where three states and two countries converge along the Rio Grande, 84% of our 24,000 students are Hispanic, and more than half are the first in their families to go to college. UTEP offers 171 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs at the only open-access, top-tier research university in America. (VP/Newswise)