University of Évora develops molecules to treat several types of cancer

A research team headed by Anthony Burke, professor at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Évora (UÉ) has developed a series of small new molecules that show potential for the treatment of several types of cancer, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCLs). The development of these molecules with potential for the treatment of cancer and some lymphomas has  been patented at the European level.


"A treatment for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) - the most common type of lymphoma - is a very important goal, because it affects many people" explains the researcher. The molecules developed "also show potential for the treatment of this type of lymphoma, the DLBCL", a malignant tumor of the lymphatic system in which the tumor cells are large B lymphocytes that proliferate and infiltrate the ganglion in a diffuse manner.

The results were achieved by Anthony Burke and Carolina Marques, researchers from UÉ's Molecular Synthesis group, one of 11 groups that are part of the Associated Laboratory for Green Chemistry (LAQV-REQUIMTE), in collaboration with international researchers from R&D centers in Switzerland and Spain.

The new molecules "were synthesized using sustainable chemical methods with metal catalysts" reveals the researcher and " have a relatively simple chemical structure and are constructed by two heterocyclic rings (a compound that has a ring, of which at least two different types of atoms are part), and in some cases are chiral, i.e., they cannot be superimposed on their mirror image."

Research in chemistry is "absolutely crucial" in the detection and treatment of cancer, a disease that is the second leading cause of death worldwide and that still has high morbidity rates, according to the professor of the Department of Chemistry at UÉ. "Lung, colorectal, and lymphomas are the three most difficult types of cancer to treat.

This is another step towards the development of new ways to treat cancer, with researchers at the University of Évora currently "identifying the molecular targets of these molecules to improve their structural characteristics and thus increase their pharmacological potency," says Anthony Burke, so that soon "we can move forward with pre-clinical studies and determine their potency in vivo and their general behavior in the animal's organism.

Remember that the team of researchers led by Anthony Burke, among other scientific advances, has successfully produced a new inhibitor of the enzyme Cholinesterase, essential to ensure communication between neurons in patients with Alzheimer's disease. This groundbreaking molecule presents in its composition only the beneficial active ingredient, and is therefore safer for the human organism.


Published in 17.03.2021