The enzyme-blocking drug, called a kinase inhibitor, targets a number of pathways that control the growth and death of cancer cells.
It acts like several different drugs working at the same time.
Scientists believe switching off cell signals at multiple points should make cancer treatment more successful and delay drug resistance.
Laboratory tests showed that the new drug, given the codename AT13148, can kill a variety of cancer types including sarcoma, breast and prostate. The findings are published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.
Dr Michelle Garrett, from Cancer Research UK's Cancer Therapeutics Unit at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said: "Our study shows that this drug is effective against a range of tumour types, and operates by blocking multiple targets.
"These promising results have led to the decision to take the drug into patient trials."
The molecule was discovered by collaborating scientists from Astex Pharmaceuticals, the Cancer Research UK company Cancer Research Technology, and the Institute of Cancer Research.
Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK's senior science information manager, said: "This is exciting research showing that this experimental drug does the job of several drugs all at once, by targeting numerous weak spots in cancer cells.
"Using one master switch to turn off the different faulty messages forcing cancer cells to keep growing could be an effective way to destroy tumours. It could also reduce the chance of patients becoming resistant to treatment."
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2012, All Rights Reserved.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
'Master switch' drug kills cancers | UK news | The Guardian