PAC-1, a drug that signals cancer cells to self-destruct, has shown promise for treatment of cancer in dogs at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Veterinary oncologist and trial coordinator Tim Fan says the drug was evaluated in dogs who had advanced blood or bone cancers that had metastasized to lung tissue.

Researchers say they plan to evaluate its use for treatment of brain cancer in humans. PAC-1 targets a cellular enzyme called procaspase-3 found at elevated levels in many forms of cancers, including those of the breast, colon, liver, lung, skin, blood and brain.

“It gives cancer cells a signal to commit suicide,” said Illinois chemistry Professor Paul Hergenrother, who discovered the drug in 2005.

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Seattle Times staff