The misunderstood knight?

An oxide of arsenic can help fight cancer
Arsenic is an acknowledged villain because of the way it has contaminated groundwater reserves. Its reputation as a poison has a long history and stretches back to fourth century treatises on medicine. This has often led inventive physicians to use the metal’s poisonous nature to treat infections.
Its elusive nature has also complicated an understanding of the relationship between arsenic and cancer. Beyond certain thresholds in drinking water, arsenic is strongly linked to various cancers; however, at other doses, it has been linked to unusually low rates of breast cancer.
Arsenic trioxide (ATO) is an oxide of arsenic that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1995, and when used in combination with another drug called all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), it was effective against a kind of leukaemia called acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL). However, it wasn’t fully clear what cellular target(s) these drugs act on, how they interact with each other, or whether they might be effective against other types of cancer.
The researchers found that mice that lack expression of Pin1 were highly resistant to developing cancer even when their cells over-expressed oncogenes (cancer causing genes) or lacked expression of tumour suppressors. Notably, these animals displayed no obvious defects for over half of lifespan, suggesting that targeting this master switch of an enzyme may be safe. Although the anti-cancer effects of ATO are potently amplified by ATRA co-treatment, ATRA has a very short time span of effectiveness. This insight could help hitch ATO to existing therapies particularly triple-negative breast cancer.


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