Scientists have discovered a new type of chemotherapy that locates a partner’s gene and eradicates cancer cells.
Scientists at the University of Alberta have discovered a partner gene, that when zapped, kills cancer cells.
When a tumor forms, it can be caused by one of two genes that become active in cancer cells. Both cells must be destroyed for the cancer cells to die, and discovering which genes actually cause cancer has been a mystery scientists have been researching for years.
What the research tell us
Michael Weinfeld and his colleagues, Edan Foley and Todd Mereniuk, at the school of Medicine and Dentistry, took cell samples and removed the gene PKNP, known to be one of the deadly duo. They then painstakingly removed over 7,000 other genes, one by one, until they were able to pinpoint the gene that would trigger the cell to die.
After much time, the scientists located the gene. It has been described as a cancer suppressor and is not present in lymphomas, which suggests that it is only present in healthy cells. By attacking and eliminating PKNP in cells that didn’t possess the cancer suppressor gene, the cancer cells died, ultimately confirming their hypothesis.
The impact of this discovery
In light of these results, by developing cancer drugs that can kill PKNP, only cells that are missing the suppressor gene will be attacked. This may prove to be revolutionary in comparison to the way the illness is currently treated and may eliminate some, if not most, of the side-effects experienced by patients in treatment at this point.
The team is now working with the University of Alberta’s Department of Chemistry to improve this potentially miracle drug they have developed. They are also working with other scientists to pair it with other technologies theorized to target and destroy cancer.
Their findings have been published in Cancer Research, a peer-reviewed medical journal.
While there have been many studies on cancer genes, particularly in the last several years as technology has rapidly improved, this one shows the greatest potential involving a new drug that targets cancer cells. This new research could pave the road to a new era of cancer treatment.
A look toward the future
Not all types of cancer will benefit from this treatment. In fact, the report released no information regarding what cancer types might benefit from this finding. However, these scientists expect that more research could eventually lead to treatments that affect a wide range of cancers.
For now, the drug is still in the developmental stages, but if everything continues to show promise, human trials could begin in Canada at some point in the next few years.