Emory dermatologist Jack Arbiser has been investigating (andÂ recently patented) inhibitors of the enzyme Nox4 as potential anti-cancer drugs.
Nox4 has emerged as a potentialÂ therapeutic targetÂ in ataxia-telangiectasia, a rare multifaceted genetic disorder that leads to neurological problems, a weakened immune system and an increased risk of cancer. Ataxia-telangiectasia (or A-T) is caused by a defect in ATM, a sensor responsible for managing cellsâ€™ responses to DNA damage and other kinds of stress.
In a February PNAS paper, researchers at the National Cancer Institute led by William Bonner reportÂ that a Nox4 inhibitor can dial back oxidative stress and DNA damage in ataxia-telangiectasia cells, and can reduce cancer rates in a mouse model of the disease. Nox4 wasÂ activated in cells and tissue samples obtained from A-T patients.
The Nox4 inhibitor the NCI team used, fulvene-5, was originally identified by Arbiser in a 2009 Journal of Clinical Investigation paper as a possibleÂ treatment for hemangiomas, a common tumor in infants that emerges from blood vessels.
David Lambeth, an expert on the NADPH oxidase family of enzymes, and his team recently described Nox4 as an â€œhydrogen peroxide-generating oxygen sensor.â€