A new molecule that can prevent cancer cells from reacting and surviving when deprived of their oxygen supply has been identified by UK scientists.
Molecule research could lead to new drugs
Researchers from the University of Southampton have discovered a molecule that locates the master switch (HIF-1) used by cancers to be continue to survive with low oxygen levels. The study was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
A process to prevent cancer cells from accessing this switch, called ‘synthetic biology’, was uncovered by scientists. They tested over 3 million potential compounds crafted from specifically designed bacteria to find a suitable molecule that stopped the HIF-1 master switch working.
Cells in the body require a constant blood supply that enables them to acquire the oxygen and nutrients essential for their survival.
When tumour outgrows its surroundings then it requires a higher level of oxygen and nutrients, a process enabled by the HIF-1. This process allows to tumour to keep growing.
Dr Ali Tavassoli, a Cancer Research UK scientist who led the study at the University of Southampton, said: “We’ve found a way to target the steps that cancer cells take to survive and we hope that our research will one day lead to effective drugs.
“We hope that we can stop cancers adapting to a low oxygen environment, stopping their growth. The next step is to further develop this molecule to create an effective treatment.”
Dr Julie Sharp, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “Finding ways to disrupt the tools that cancer cells use to adapt and grow when starved of oxygen has been a hot topic in cancer research, but finding drugs that do this effectively has proved elusive.
“For the first time our scientists have found a way to block a master switch controlling cells response to low levels of oxygen – an important step towards creating drugs that could halt cancer in its tracks.”
Health insurance can give you access to the latest cancer drugs and treatments if your policy has comprehensive cancer care.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013