In a cancer breakthrough, scientists have been able to program cancer cells back to normal which could lead to new treatments and even reverse tumor growth.
This is the first time that aggressive breast, lung, and bladder cancer cells have been turned back into harmless benign cells by restoring the function which prevents them from multiplying excessively and forming dangerous growths.
Scientists compare this to the applying the brakes to a speeding car.
The procedure has only been tested on human cells in the lab, but researchers are hopeful that the technique could be used to target tumors so that cancer could be turned off without the need for harsh chemotherapy or surgery.
Researchers believe that they will be able to re-establish the brakes and restore normal cell function.
This discovery represents an unexpected new biology that provides the code, the software of turning off cancer.
Cells constantly divide in order to replace themselves. However, cancer cells do not stop dividing to huge cell reproduction and tumor growth.
Scientists discovered that the glue which holds cells together is regulated by biological microprocessors called microRNAs. When everything is functioning properly, the microRNAs instruct the cells to stop dividing when they have replicated sufficiently. This is done by triggering production of a protein called PLEKHA7 which breaks the cell bonds. However, in cancer that process doesn’t occur.
It was found that the process could be reversed by switching the brakes back on and stopping cancer.
There is still a long way to go before knowing whether these findings will help treat people with cancer. It is 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.