Cancer is a common disease and due to problems with resistance against cancer drugs and the limited benefit from chemotherapy in many diagnoses, there is a need to develop new cancer drugs. In this thesis new methods to screen for cancer drugs and to evaluate their mechanism of action are discussed.
In Paper I, it was found that by studying the gene expression of a cell line panel and combining the data with sensitivity data of a number of cytotoxic drugs, it was possible to cluster compounds according to mechanism of action as well as identifying genes associated with chemosensitivity.
In Paper II, studies of compounds with selective activity in drug-resistant cell lines revealed the glucocorticoids as a group of interesting compounds. The glucocorticoid receptor was overexpressed in 8226/Dox40 and the difference in sensitivity was abolished when the cells were treated with a glucocorticoid receptor antagonist.
In Paper III, an image-based screening method for new proteasome inhibitors was successfully developed and the compounds disulfiram, PDTC and NSC 95397 were identified as inhibitors of the proteasome.
In Paper IV, disulfiram and PDTC were shown to induce cytotoxic activity, to inhibit the activation of the transcription factor NFkappaB and to inhibit the degradation of proteins normally degraded by the proteasome.
In Paper V, NSC 95397 was shown to be cytotoxic to all cells in the resistance-based cell line panel as well as to patient samples from a variety of cancer diagnoses. Connectivity Map was successfully used as a tool to propose a new mechanism of action of NSC 95397. The gene expression induced by NSC 95397-treatment was similar to that induced by several proteasome inhibitors not present in the Connectivity Map.