Is a Common Solvent the Next Big Thing in Multiple Myeloma?

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A team of researchers led by scientists from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia are reporting that a common solvent that has various applications in industry as well as pharmaceuticals could be the most effective killer of multiple myeloma cells ever discovered.

When we think of solvents, we think of carcinogens-- cancer-causing substances that wreak havoc on our bodies and our environment.

But this research team is investigating the solvent N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) across a wide range of cells in pre-clinical testing, and according to their tests, NMP appears to have remarkable anti-myeloma properties-- ones that are even better than Revlimid, one of the standards of care for this disease.

What NMP Is

Right now, NMP is found in a variety of products, including paint stripper, nail polish remover, transdermal patches, and orthopedic cements. At the levels it is commonly used in these industries, it is considered safe in terms of exposure, but the state of California, for instance, cites that NMP has "reproductive toxicity."

How NMP Appears to Work

Researchers believe that two things are going on with NMP that are separate but complimentary.

In one sense, it works like Revlimid, which is an immunomodulator, meaning that it enlists the body's existing immune system to fight the cancer cells.

But it also appears to have properties similar to bromodomain inhibitors in that it seems to directly affect those processes within myeloma cells that are crucial for their survival.

What Now?

Having reported their findings in the journal Cell Reports, researchers say that they are moving past the pre-clinical phase and are actively beginning the process to start a phase I clinical trial.

Of course, we've learned that lots and lots of different things are effective against cancer cells in a laboratory setting but are either unsafe or ineffective when actually administered to humans, so the jury is out.

Still, it presents a potential breakthrough in the treatment of a difficult-to-treat disease, one that is already widely produced and therefore less expensive to reproduce as it makes its way down the pipeline.

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