From Heterotaxia to Cancer Treatment

  • Author: ChemistryViews
  • Published: 05 March 2011
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
  • Source / Publisher: Chemisty & Biology/Elsevier
thumbnail image: From Heterotaxia to Cancer Treatment

In an example of scientific serendipity, researchers at North Carolina State University, USA, have found that a compound useful for studying the origins of intestinal birth defects may also inhibit the growth and spread of cancerous tumors.


Developed by Alex Deiters and team, the compound induces heterotaxia, a disordering or mirror-image inversion of internal organs in frog embryos. The compound is a novel pyridine analog, named heterotaxin after the condition it causes. In studies to determine the cause of these mutations, Nanette Nascone-Yoder and co-workers found that the compound also prevents normal blood-vessel formation and prevents cells from migrating by increasing cellular adhesion.


The pathway most likely to be affected by heterotaxin was the TGF-beta pathway. TGF-beta is known to play a role in the progression of cancerous tumors from normal to metastatic. This makes it a promising lead compound for preventing cancer metastasis.


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