PNC-27 is a synthetically created peptide designed to specifically target and destroy cancer cells. It is a member of the PNC set of investigational proteins designed to attach to malformed (cancerous) cells and cause them to die through cell necrosis, all while leaving normal, healthy cells intact and unharmed.
The PNC-27 peptide contains an HDM-2 binding domain corresponding to residues 12-26 of p53 and a transmembrane-penetrating domain. This has been found to enable the peptide to bind to and kill cancer cells through membranolysis, or disruption of the cell membrane.
Through research and study on animal subjects, the PNC-27 peptide has been shown to be highly effective in selectively targeting a wide variety of specific forms of cancer, including pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, melanoma, and additional cancer lines.
PNC proteins were first theorized and created in 2000 by Drs. Matthew Pincus and Joseph Michl at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York. Although they were originally intended to combat HIV, PNC-27 showed a remarkable ability to bind to cancer cells, causing them to die, while leaving healthy cells undamaged.
The PNC-27 cancer peptide is a nontoxic compound that causes the death of cancer cells only, leaving all other healthy cells unaffected. It is able to do this by attaching to the membranes of the individual cancer cells, creating holes in those membranes. As a result of the holes, rapid implosion occurs, leading to swift cell death due to the osmotic pressure difference in the inside vs. outside of the tumor cells.
PNC-27 accomplishes this due to its affinity for binding to a protein called HDM-2. Cancer cells have HDM-2 in their cell membranes. When the PNC-27 peptide is administered, it immediately travels to the HDM-2 located in the membranes of cancerous cells. By binding to them, it creates pores or holes in the cell membrane, causing “membranolysis” or death of the cell membrane. This in turn leads to the destruction of the cancer cell.
When the PNC-27 peptide is administered in animal studies, certain aspects have been noted in successful outcomes. Researchers have noted pain levels subjectively drop in a mean time of about a week. By the 3 week mark, animal subjects often present with flu-like symptoms, a likely indicator that subjects’ immune systems are responding to the death of cancer cells.
At 6 weeks, lactate dehydrogenase and bilirubin levels typically increase. Substantial tumor breakdown in successful research outcomes is often observed at around the 10 week mark. At this time, the tumors are noted to become softer and more pliable.
Some increase in the size of the tumor itself may be noted at this time. However, this is often due to inflammation because of immune system response. By the end of 3 months, researchers often notice animal study subjects to exhibit increased energy levels and reduced cancer-related symptoms.
PNC-27 side effects have been observed in animal studies. These have included skin and nose inflammation, watery eyes, dry skin, high blood pressure, headache, back pain, nosebleed, rectal bleeding, taste change, and too much protein in the urine.
Notably, cancer cells have significant levels of HDM-2 in their membranes, while untransformed or noncancerous cells do not have significant levels of HDM-2. This allows the PNC-27 peptide to selectively target the cancerous cells, leaving undamaged the healthy surrounding tissue.
Amazingly, researchers observed that when the cancer killing peptide was administered, it caused a complete blockade of any tumor growth during its 2-week period of administration and 2 weeks post-treatment. This was followed by weak tumor growth that plateaued at low tumor sizes compared with tumor growth in the presence of a control peptide.
In a more recent study conducted in 2014 and published in Annals of Clinical & Laboratory Science, researchers concluded that “the anti-cancer peptide, PNC-27, induces tumor cell necrosis of a poorly differentiated non-solid tissue mammalian leukemia cell line that depends on expression of HDM-2 in the plasma membrane of these cells.