Cancer Kill Switch

Cancer kill switch

Cancer kill switch

What if you could just flick a switch and turn off cancer? It seems like something you would see in a sci-fi flick, but scientists are working towards a future where that could be a reality. At the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, a group of researchers have made a discovery that could be a kill switch for cancer. They have found a way to reprogram mutating cancer cells back to normal, healthy cells.

Panos Anastasiadis, PhD, head of the Department of Cancer Biology at the Mayo Clinic, and his team were studying the role of adhesion proteins in cells. Anastasiadis’ primary focus was on the p120 catenin protein and long held hypothesis on it being a major player in the suppressor of tumors. The team found that p120, along with another adhesion protein, E-cadherin, actually promoted cancer growth. “That led us to believe that these molecules have two faces — a good one, maintaining the normal behavior of the cells, and a bad one that drives tumorigenesis.”

In that research, however, Anastasiadis made a remarkable discovery, “an unexpected new biology that provides the code, the software for turning off cancer.” That would be a partner to the P120 protein, dubbed PLEKHA7. When introduced to tumors, PLEKHA7 was able to “turn off” the cancerous cells’ ability to replicate and return it to a benign state. It stopped the cancer in its tracks.

How it all works is pretty straightforward. Normal, healthy cells are regulated by a sort of biological microprocessor known as microRNAs, which tell the cells to stop replicating when they have reproduced enough. Cancer is caused by a cell’s inability to stop replicating itself, and eventually grows into a cluster of cells that we know as a tumor. Anastasiadis’ team found that PLEKHA7 was an important factor in halting the replication of cells, but that it wasn’t present in the cancerous cells. By reintroducing PLEKHA7, what were once raging cancerous cells returned to normal.

This was done by injecting PLEKHA7 directly into the cells, under a controlled lab test. Anastasiadis said they still need to work on “better delivery options,” as these tests were done on human cells in a lab. They did find success, however, in stopping the growth in two very aggressive forms of cancer: breast and bladder. While this isn’t being tested on humans yet, it represents a huge step forward in understanding the nature of cancer and we can cure it.

 

Source:  Geek.com

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s