Scientists Have Found a New Way to Get Cancer Cells to Self-Destruct

New Way to Get Cancer Cells to Self-Destruct

A newly discovered treatment mechanism causes cancerous cells to kill themselves off, and researchers say it is able to be especially effective for aggressive types of the disease, including pancreatic cancer.

Once the process is activated through modifying particular proteins inside cancerous tissue, the relentless division that drives the disease is drawn to a halt, causing cancer cells to die off instead of spreading throughout the body. And not like present day cancer treatments, this method leaves the healthful cells alone.

Researchers of Tel Aviv university in Israel observed the effect in cancer cell cultures and human cancer cells transplanted into mice, and the next step is to determine out if this mechanism also can work in the human body.

"The invention of an unique mechanism that kills cancer cells without impairing healthy cells, and the truth that this mechanism works on a variety of rapidly proliferating human cancer cells, may be very interesting," says lead researcher Malka Cohen-Armon.

The scientists focussed on proteins that have an effect on the construction and stability of the spindle – the part of the cell responsible for establishing genetic material during a stage of cell division known as mitosis.

Israeli Scientists Find Mechanism Cancer Cells to Self-Destruct The group discovered that sure compounds in cancerous cells - derivatives of the chemical phenanthridine - emerge as disrupting the spindle, preventing cell chromosomes from splitting, and preventing the cell from dividing.

A cancerous growth is essentially mitosis out of control, however with the division halted thanks to the new protein mechanism, these cancer cells can die off instead of spreading throughout the body.

"According to the mechanism we found, the quicker cancer cells proliferate, the quicker and greater efficiently they will be eradicated," says Cohen-Armon.

The team tested the method with positive outcomes on a variety of tumour types in human cancer cell cultures, including breast, lung, ovary, colon, pancreas, blood, and brain cancer.

Activating the mechanism in mice carrying triple negative breast cancer cells – currently resistant to the standard treatments – was sufficient to stop tumour growth.

This is one of several avenues of studies currently exploring ways to kill off cancer cells with minimum damage to the body.

Last year, researchers from Georgia nation university diagnosed a protein called ProAgio that could cause cancer cell death, beginning the natural process of apoptosis in cancer cells – the process our bodies use to clear away old cells, and which cancer cells usually evade.

Previous research have looked at stopping glucose supply to cancer cells, and blocking a protein called MCL1 that still enables cancer cells to resist apoptosis.

Studies to develop these findings into treatments continues.

For their part, the group from Tel Aviv intends to study in addition how the protein mechanism combats triple negative breast cancer and pancreatic most cancers, as they work towards developing a possible anti-cancer drug.

"Identifying the mechanism and showing its relevance in treating advanced tumours opens new avenues for the eradication of rapidly growing aggressive cancers with out damaging healthy tissues," says Cohen-Armon.

Dr Strange is one of a Founder member and Author of Eureka Sparks. He is a Medical Researcher and on Modern Medical Ethics.

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