Scientists have found a code for turning off cancer, it was announced yesterday. Scientists believe that they have found a way to turn cancerous cells back into healthy tissue.
In groundbreaking experiments, scientists made cancerous breast and bladder cells benign again. And they believe many other types of cancer will also be treatable. They said that their work reveals “an unexpected new biology that provides the code, the software for turning off cancer.” Most importantly, it uncovers “a new strategy for cancer therapy.”
“Their lab-based work suggests there is a biological step that can restore normality and stop cells from replicating out of control.
The breakthrough focuses on a protein called PLEKHA7 that helps healthy cells clump together. The research, from the Mayo Clinic in Florida, showed it to be missing or faulty in a range of cancers. When this happens, key genetic instructions to the cells are scrambled and they turn cancerous.
When the Mayo Clinic researchers added molecules called microRNAs, it put the brakes on cancer, Nature Cell Biology reports. The researchers are hopeful that the new mechanism they have found could apply to all types of cancer.” said dailymail.co.uk
It brings together two strands of science – cell adhesion and microRNA (miRNA) biology – that, until now, had not been linked. Scientists had thought adhesion molecules were simply the glue that holds cells together. But then others found they might have signalling roles. The Mayo Clinic work shows adhesion molecules connect cells and signal via miRNAs to control cell growth. If this becomes deregulated it can drive cancer. But replenishing cells with miRNAs can remedy this.
Lead researcher Dr. Panos Anastasiadis said: “By administering the affected miRNAs in cancer cells to restore their normal levels, we should be able to re-establish the brakes and restore normal cell function. Initial experiments in some aggressive types of cancer are indeed very promising.”
“He thinks the approach, detailed in the journal Nature Cell Biology, would apply to most cancers, other than brain and blood cancers.
Henry Scowcroft, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information manager, said: “This important study solves a long-standing biological mystery, but we mustn’t get ahead of ourselves.” said dailymail.co.uk
“There’s a long way to go before we know whether these findings, in cells grown in a laboratory, will help treat people with cancer. But it’s a significant step forward in understanding how certain cells in our body know when to grow, and when to stop. Understanding these key concepts is crucial to help continue the encouraging progress against cancer we’ve seen in recent years.”
Experts described the research as “beautiful” and “absolutely fascinating.”