Versatile Drugs Make Use of Body's Own Defenses

Michael Sporn and Karen Liby study triterpenoids—whose versatility makes them a veritable Swiss Army knife of the drug world. (photo by Jennifer Durgin)

A family of drugs discovered at Dartmouth is proving more versatile than originally thought, as evidenced by more than a dozen recent papers by scientists at DMS and elsewhere. These drugs—called synthetic triterpenoids—were created to prevent and treat cancer. But due to their potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, they appear to be useful in treating not just cancer but diabetes, Parkinson's, and other diseases. And the latest findings show that triterpenoids may even help prevent age-related macular degeneration and emphysema.

Read the full story by Jennifer Durgin in Dartmouth Medicine's Spring 2010 issue.