Onconase is a specialized enzyme found originally in frogs that speeds up the an enzyme that specializes in the break down of RNA which in turn can destroy a cell or stop it from dividing.
It is now being investigated as a possible treatment to certain cancers, including mesothelioma. Ranpirnase, brand named Onconase and also known as P-30 protein, is a ribonuclease enzyme found in the oocyte, or immature egg cell, of the Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens) who is native to North America. The enzyme is being studied as a potential substance for use in cancer treatment with a focus on mesothelioma. Ranpirnase is manufactured by the Alfacell Corporation, a biopharmeceutical company heavily involved in the development of new ribonuclease enzymes, under the Onconase trademark and has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration yet. However, Onconase is currently in Phase III trials to determine its safety and effects on several cancers.
It is the first ribonuclease protein drug as well as one of the first embryonic stem cell products to have advanced this far in clinical tests. The first human trials are recent, and due to the current status of this drug, there is little information about its effects and side-effects.
Ranpirnase is a single peptide chain which contains one-hundred and four amino acids, and its molecular mass is approximately twelve-thousand daltons. It operates by manipulating the RNA and intracellular processes, such as inhibiting protein synthesis, to encourage apoptosis and discourage cellular reproduction. It manipulates the RNA by decaying the strands to prevent the production of DNA and, therefore, the generation of cells. The primary focus for ranpirnase is to use it as a compliment to already established chemotherapy drugs to enhance the results or make those drugs effective when they were not before. Alternatively, in patients who are showing progress in current treatments, ranpirnase can be used in conjunction with their therapy to reduce the dosage and therefore the side effects of their treatment.
Note: Onconase is the brand name for ranpirnase.