Serendipity strikes again! The researchers in the article were using PPAR for another purpose but found they killed the cancer cells they were working on pretty effectively. From the article:
The compound works in much the same way as the taxane drugs, including Taxol, which were originally derived from Pacific yew trees.
“It targets part of the cell cytoskeleton called tubulin,” Schaefer said. Tubulin is used to build microtubules, which in turn make up the cell’s structure.
Destroying it kills the cell, but cancer cells eventually evolve mechanisms to pump out the drugs that do this, a problem called resistance.
“Resistance to anti-tubulin therapies is a huge problem in many cancers. We see this as another way to get to the tubulin,” Schaefer said.
The PPAR-gamma compound does this in a different way from the taxanes, which might mean it could overcome the resistance that tumor cells often develop to chemotherapy.
“Most of the drugs like Taxol affect the ability of tubulin to forms into microtubules. This doesn’t do that -- it causes the tubulin itself to disappear. We do not know why.”