Starvation of cancer cells could save lives
A study published in EMBO Journal shows that by blocking autophagy in various cancer cells, patients respond better to treatment. This is especially valid for breast cancer.
Autophagy is a biological mechanism found in every one of us that handles cellular waste and releases building blocks for recycling. Autophagy in cancer cells is more active in normal cells and this leads cancer to spread and to develop metastasis. Another consequence of increased autophagy is that it makes the cancer cells almost immune to conventional treatment.
Professor Anders H. Lund from BRIC, University of Copenhagen says that he and his team of researcher have found a small molecule that has the ability to block autophagy. This means that the tumor can potentially stop growing and even shrink but what is most important is that this blocking of the autophagy mechanism makes the cancer respond very well to treatment.
This new incredible inhibitor is called "microRNA-101". It can be found in every each of us as it is part of our cells. Researchers and scientist alike are currently concentrating their efforts to learn more about autophagy and microRNA molecules because it has been observed that they play a crucial role in the development of cancer. MicroRNA molecules are known to control our genes and therefore they have a wide sphere of influence.
Lisa Frankel is the researcher who led the study in Anders H, Lund's laboratory. She says that they have proven that microRNA-101 inhibitor can control specific genes and as a consequence shut down autophagy in cancer cells. This fact is completely new for the researchers and opens up a whole new world of cancer treatment possibilities.
Researchers have noticed the microRNA-101 molecules are often lost in breast cancer, prostate cancer and liver cancer. They hope that by controlling the level microRNA-101 molecule in cancer cells of different types they will be able to oofer cancer patients better prognosis.
The study will continue by researching if other microRNA molecules influence the level of autophagy in cancer cells or what other implications they may have. Another interesting topic of research is to see hw these molecule affect the development of our bodies and other types of cancer.