Mayo Clinic Researchers Crack New Code To Reprogram Cancer Cells
This new study, published in Nature Cell Biology, represents “an unexpected new biology that provides the code, the software for turning off cancer,” says the study’s senior investigator, Panos Anastasiadis, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at The Mayo Clinic in Florida.
Have scientists really found a way to drastically slow down the fast replication of cancer cells?
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic discovered adhesion proteins, which are the glue that keeps cells together and that interact with the microprocessor. The microprocessor is a key player in the production of molecules called microRNAs, which regulate expressions for a group of genes. This microprocessor tells healthy cells when to stop replicating, but this function is missing in cancer cells. Furthermore, this imbalance is equivalent to a speeding car without breaks.
These new findings offer a way to inject these microprocessors directly into cancer cells to restore the function and put a break on cancer cell growth.
In the initial experiments, researchers used aggressive breast, bladder and lung cancer cells and were successful to flip a switch which resulted in turning cancer cells back to normal cells and helped restore the function that prevented further overgrowth.
According to the medical community, it is a breakthrough in cancer research and could possibly open the door for new treatments that can pause or even reverse tumor growth. But this is all possible if the same results can be replicated to cells outside the lab.
Normal vs. Cancer Cells
When normal cells come in contact with each other, a specific subset of miRNAs suppresses genes that promote healthy cell growth. However, when adhesion is disrupted in cancer cells, these miRNAs are misregulated and rogue cells grow out of control, thus forming tumors. When tested in laboratory experiments, restoring the normal miRNA levels in cancer cells showed to reverse the bad cell growth.
What Does The Future of Cancer Look Like?
Still in the early stages, this kind of experiment has only been conducted on cancer cells in the lab. Researchers believe that if they can duplicate the results in humans, it will eliminate the need for harsh chemotherapy or any other cancer drugs. This development would essentially mean that cancer cell growth can be contained or even reversed.
All in all, before researchers are able to come up with any conclusive solution, they will still need to conduct more research to figure out how this breakthrough can be applied outside of the lab.
Take a moment to watch and learn about this scientific breakthrough by the Mayo Clinic:
Reader – How does this discovery make you feel about the future of cancer treatment?