Maltol: from malt the new weapon to "commit suicide" tumors

Maltol, a natural substance contained in malt, could be the new key to cancer treatment. Present in many natural products, properly treated, maltol could give life to a new class of molecules able to push cancer cells to self-destruct. The new therapeutic strategy, conducted at the University of Urbino, has already obtained the national patent, and is now awaiting the international one.



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Il maltolo, a natural substance contained in malt, could be the new key to cancer treatment. Present in many natural products, properly treated, maltol could give life to a new class of molecules capable of push cancer cells to self-destruct.

The new therapeutic strategy, conducted at the University of Urbino, has already obtained the national patent and is now awaiting the international one.

No drug cocktails are needed, sometimes the solution is already found in nature, and it is hoped, as in this case, that maltol can really be the new weapon against tumors. Result of the work of two research teams, that of Dr. Mirco Fanelli of the Laboratory of Molecular Pathology "PaoLa" and that of prof. Vieri Fusi, of the Supramolecular Chemistry Laboratory, the research revealed that the maltolo, itself a harmless molecule sometimes used as food additive for its aroma (especially for the strawberry aroma) and its own antioxidant properties, can give rise to new molecules.

explains Mirco Fanelli: "We immediately monitored how some neoplastic models (in vitro cell cultures) were sensitive to treatments with the two molecules, called painted e maltone: the cells, in response to the treatments, first alter their ability to replicate and, subsequently, induce an important biological process that leads them to a real suicide (called programmed cell death) ". Basically, by administering the two new molecules, the cancer cells are pushed to self-destruct.

Scientists further explain that such compounds have already proved interesting biological properties inducing a sensitive reduction of tumor mass. Fanelli says: “These new molecules seem to act through new mechanisms attributable to structural modifications of chromatin. This mechanism of action, to date never observed in molecules with antineoplastic action, is the basis for a potential development of molecules that can exploit alternative strategies with which to target cancer cells ".



The hope of the researchers is to develop a new weapon starting from a natural base to defeat cancer, especially intended for those types of cancer still without therapy or resulting from a relapse.


Francesca Mancuso

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