NU professor is developing a medicine for malignant cancer based on vitamin C and arsenic

Dos Sarbassov, a Kazakh-American biologist and Nazarbayev University scientist, is completing the development of a drug that will make mutated cancer cells self-destruct. His drug, along with an American drug based on arsenic in low doses, has been shown to be effective against KRAS-mutant cells, which are found in 95%of pancreatic cancers, 30%of colon cancers, and 20%of lung cancers.

The KRAS gene is a small regulatory protein that signals growth factors for active cell division. Growth factors are present in large quantities in the body of the embryo and stimulate active growth. With the time of development, the concentration of growth factors decreases, the adult organism stops growing and is only able to maintain cell regeneration.

“When KRAS mutates, it becomes permanently on, thus leading to the constant activation of the division process, that is, to tumor growth. Today this type of mutation is incurable, patients with pancreatic cancer do not live longer than one and a half to two years. This type of cancer is the most serious problem in modern oncology” said Dos Sarbassov.

A group of scientists led by Sarbassov found that KRAS-mutant cells are very sensitive to glucose starvation. Without it, cancer cells start producing radicals and self-destruct.

Since it is impossible to deprive the human body of glucose, the scientists took the radicals produced by the cells and combined them with the steroisomer of vitamin C – D-VC. KRAS-mutant cells perceive it as glucose, absorb it, which makes the cells “stress” and subsequently self-destruct.

The drug has proven effective when used in conjunction with an American drug based on arsenic in small doses. They complement and reinforce each other’s action.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed the effectiveness of the drug and has issued an authorization for treating people. According to Sarbassov, he is now studying Kazakhstani legislation to design and get approval for a high-quality clinical trial within Kazakhstan.