May 23, 2017 | Updated: 03:58 PM EDT

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Anticancer & Antiviral Drugs: New Discovery On How They Get Into Cells, Geared Towards Development Of New, More Specific Drugs

Apr 18, 2017 06:06 PM EDT

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A group of researchers has identified concentrative nucleoside transporter or CNT as the physiologic substance involved in the transport of anticancer and antiviral drugs into the cells. The study utilized a model formed by Duke University scientists headed by Seok-Yong Lee, Ph.D.

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According to Science Daily, the specific anticancer and antiviral drugs involved in CNT transport include; 5-flurouracil, gemcitabine, and AZT, acyclovir respectively. These drugs are nucleoside analogs and natural nucleosides where a model showing animation on how they are transported into cells was created by the researchers.

 From the video taken from the scientist's visual video, CNT acts like an elevator that stops at various points across cell membrane until reaching the opposite side. This study was the first to provide an animation or visualization of how CNT conforms while in motion, as stated by study author Seok-Yong Lee. He also added that further understanding on how CNT recognizes and transports nucleoside-drugs into cells may lead to the discovery of a more cell-specific drug geared towards more effective anticancer and antiviral medications.

Nucleoside analogs, through special proteins known as nucleoside transporters, are carried across cell membranes. In the said study, the researchers utilized a technique called x-ray crystallography in order to produce an atomic-level three-dimensional view of CNT.

Meanwhile, according to NCBI, cytotoxic nucleoside analogs and nucleobases were among the first drugs that were introduced as a target for cancer. This group of compounds has developed and has included a variety of purine and pyrimidine derivatives that targets both solid tumors and malignant disorders of the blood.

In the case of viral infections, nucleoside analogs such as zidovudine (AZT) and acyclovir are essential in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis infections respectively. This analog is similar and resembles naturally-occurring nucleosides and exerts their action by the termination of nascent DNA chain.

In the said study, CNT is similar to other transporters in the body responsible for the import of neurotransmitters, metabolites, and ions. The new findings, therefore, may not only lead to the advancement of an anticancer and antiviral drug but also to different physiologic and even metabolic processes.