Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Lung Cancer Health Center

Font Size

New Drug May Stop Spread of Lung Cancer

Compound Blocks Enzyme Implicated in Cancer Growth in Animal Tests

WebMD Health News

Sept. 1, 2005 - A new drug may stop the spread of lung cancer by blocking an enzyme that prevents cancer cells from dying.

Early tests of the drug in mice show that the active ingredient, a compound called GRN163L, works quickly and may eventually be useful after surgery or chemotherapy/radiation therapy to prevent any missed cancer cells from spreading.

Researchers say it's the first time that the drug has been shown to work in animals. Human trials are planned.

The results appear in the September issue of the journal Cancer Research.

New Lung Cancer Drug Passes First Hurdle

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. Researchers say survival rates for lung cancer are poor because the disease spreads quickly; sometimes the disease is already advanced at the time of diagnosis.

Previous studies of the drug in the lab have shown that it blocks an enzyme called telomerase that prevents cells from dying and is associated with the spread of most types of cancer.

In normal cells, the end of the chromosomes, known as telomere, becomes shorter and shorter as the cells divide and age. When they reach a certain length, the cells stop dividing and die. But in cancerous cells, telomerase kicks in and keeps the telomeres the same length, allowing them to divide and multiply indefinitely.

Researchers say telomerase works by binding to DNA and keeping the chromosome from getting shorter. But GRN163L matches a stretch of DNA on the chromosome that prevents the enzyme from binding.

In the study, researchers injected human lung cancer cells into the tails of mice and found that GRN163L blocked the growth of the tumors over the course of several months. The higher the dose of the drug, the fewer tumors there were.

Researchers say the results suggest that this enzyme-blocking action occurred at doses that would be reasonable for human treatment. But the drug may not work in people in whom lung cancers have already begun to spread.

The FDA recently approved human trials of the drug based on the results of this research.

Today on WebMD

Broken cigarette
Do you know the myths from the facts?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
Lung Cancer Risks Myths and Facts
cancer fighting foods
Improving Lung Cancer Survival Targeted Therapy
Lung Cancer Surprising Differences Between Sexes
Pets Improve Your Health
Vitamin D
Lung Cancer Surgery Options