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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Jun;1788(6):1263-70. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2009.02.016. Epub 2009 Feb 27.

IR spectroscopy as a new tool for evidencing antitumor drug signatures.

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  • 1Laboratory for the Structure and Function of Biological Membranes, Center for Structural Biology and Bioinformatics, Universit√© Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium.


There is a growing interest for screening antitumor drugs for their mechanism of action on cancer cells. Yet, screening for "modes of action" presents a technical challenge that is beyond the capability of conventional methods used in cellular or molecular biology. Several studies have highlighted the advantages of using infrared spectroscopy for diagnostic purposes at the clinical level for identifying cell types. In the present work, we suggest that the Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrum of cells exposed to anti-cancer drugs could offer a unique opportunity to obtain a fingerprint of all molecules present in the cells and to observe, with a high sensitivity, the metabolic changes induced by potential anti-cancer drugs. Ouabain is one of the most potent cardenolides, which acts by inhibiting sodium pump activity. Cardenolides represent a class of compounds that are intended to soon enter clinical trials in oncology. In order to evaluate the potential of infrared spectroscopy to yield a signature for ouabain action on cancer cells, human prostate cancer PC-3 cells were treated with 36 nM ouabain, a sub-lethal concentration. Using ouabain as a model, we have thus demonstrated the possibility of using IR spectroscopy in the assessment of the global effects of an investigational compound on the cell constituents, thus contributing to setting up a new method for screening for novel anti-cancer agents in general, and potential anti-cancer cardenolides in particular. The most spectacular data obtained strongly suggest a modification in the nature of the cell lipids.

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