TWU biology lab granted patent for anti-cancer compounds

Michael Bergel draws structure for his patented anti-cancer compounds on a whiteboard.
Michael Bergel, Ph.D., draws the structure of his team's patented anti-cancer compounds. Photo by Michael Modecki.

Oct. 15, 2020 — DENTON — A Texas Woman’s University biology team, led by associate professor Michael Bergel, Ph.D., has been issued a patent for three compounds that prevent the growth of human breast, lung and colon cancer cells.

Bergel’s team discovered and demonstrated the ability of the compounds, called “bisamidoximes,” to specifically inhibit these cancer cells in very low concentrations, without killing healthy human cells at the same concentrations. In lab tests, one of the compounds was effective in shrinking breast cancer tumors, and all three of the compounds combined with a commercially available chemotherapy drug were more effective in preventing the growth of colon cancer cells in culture than when using the drug alone.

“This novel invention will contribute to cancer treatment research and has the potential to save lives,” said Holly Hansen-Thomas, Ph.D., TWU Vice Provost for Research and Innovation.

Research is currently underway to assess the compounds’ further potential when delivered at higher concentrations and directly to the tumor site.

“This is a momentous achievement," noted Bergel. "After many years of experimental work and two more years of navigating the patent process, I am so proud to see what our team has accomplished. Colleagues, former and current doctoral students, and many undergraduate researchers all joined forces and worked tirelessly. I'm also grateful for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Advanced Research Program grant and TWU's Research Enhancement Program funding, which allowed us to reach this milestone.”  

Bergel’s co-inventors on the patent are TWU biology doctoral program alumni Sudheer Dhanireddy, Ph.D., and Amon Gekombe, Ph.D.; the late James Johnson, Ph.D., former TWU professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and Johnson’s former student, Debra Dolliver, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at the University of Alabama. Johnson and Dolliver synthesized the bisamidoximes for the team’s analysis.

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Page last updated 12:32 PM, October 19, 2020