Scientists develop ground-breaking new method of 'starving' cancer cells

July 10, 2013, University of Southampton
Scientists develop ground-breaking new method of ‘starving’ cancer cells
Research to find a way of killing cancer cells, without harming normal, healthy cells.

A University of Southampton Professor, in collaboration with colleagues at the BC Cancer Agency Research Centre, have discovered a novel way of killing cancer cells. The research, recently published in the journal Cell, has found a new potential treatment for cancer, which leaves the body's healthy cells undamaged, unlike traditional therapies such as radiotherapy.

Chris Proud, Professor of Cellular Regulation in Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton says: "Cancer cells grow and divide much more rapidly than normal cells, meaning they have a much higher demand for and are often starved of, nutrients and oxygen. We have discovered that a , eEF2K, plays a critical role in allowing to survive nutrient starvation, whilst normal, healthy cells do not usually require eEF2K in order to survive. Therefore, by blocking the function of eEF2K, we should be able to kill cancer cells, without harming normal, healthy cells in the process."

Almost all cells in the human body contain the same basic components, meaning that to attack one of them in a cancer cell, that component will also be affected in normal cells. This study has identified a specific protein that is not necessary in normal cells but seems to be important to the survival of . A treatment that could block this protein could represent a significant breakthrough in the future of .

Traditional chemotherapy and cause damage to healthy cells, and other more targeted treatments are usually only effective for individual . Contrastingly, this new development does not damage healthy cells and could also be used to treat a wide variety of different cancers. Professor Proud and the team are now working with other labs, including pharmaceutical companies, to develop and test drugs that block eEF2K, which could potentially be used to treat cancer in the future.

Professor Proud is also researching the origins of cancer. He says: "Protein synthesis – the creation of proteins within cells –is a fundamental process that enables cells to grow, divide and function. If it goes wrong, it can contribute to the development of cancer. We are interested in how defects in this process can cause cancers and other diseases."

Explore further: New paper offers insights into how cancer cells avoid cell death

Related Stories

New paper offers insights into how cancer cells avoid cell death

June 19, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A new study by a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame provides an important new insight into how cancer cells are able to avoid the cell death process. The findings may reveal a novel chemotherapeutic ...

'Chase and run' cell movement mechanism explains process of metastasis

June 16, 2013
A mechanism that cells use to group together and move around the body – called 'chase and run' - has been described for the first time by scientists at UCL.

Protein is involved with colon cancer cell's ability to invade other cells

June 27, 2013
Understanding how the protein km23-1 enables in the spread of colon cancer may lead to new treatments for the disease, according to researchers at Penn State College of Medicine.

Telomere length influences cancer cell differentiation

June 27, 2013
Researchers from the Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research in Tokyo have discovered that forced elongation of telomeres (extensions on the end of chromosomes) promotes the differentiation of cancer cells, probably reducing ...

York scientists discover driving force behind prostate cancer

March 27, 2013
Scientists at the University of York have discovered the driving force behind the development of prostate cancer.

Study suggests new approach to fight lung cancer

June 18, 2013
Recent research has shown that cancer cells have a much different – and more complex – metabolism than normal cells. Now, scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas have found that exploiting these differences might ...

Recommended for you

Healthy diets linked to better outcomes in colorectal cancer

October 20, 2018
Colorectal cancer patients who followed healthy diets had a lower risk of death from colorectal cancer and all causes, even those who improved their diets after being diagnosed, according to a new American Cancer Society ...

Scientists to improve cancer treatment effectiveness

October 19, 2018
Together with researchers from the University of Nantes and the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne in France, experts from the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI have recently developed a quantum dot-based microarray ...

Why some cancers affect only young women

October 19, 2018
Among several forms of pancreatic cancer, one of them specifically affects women, often young. How is this possible, even though the pancreas is an organ with little exposure to sex hormones? This pancreatic cancer, known ...

Mutant cells colonize our tissues over our lifetime

October 18, 2018
By the time we reach middle age, more than half of the oesophagus in healthy people has been taken over by cells carrying mutations in cancer genes, scientists have uncovered. By studying normal oesophagus tissue, scientists ...

Study involving hundreds of patient samples may reveal new treatment options of leukemia

October 17, 2018
After more than five years and 672 patient samples, an OHSU research team has published the largest cancer dataset of its kind for a form of leukemia. The study, "Functional Genomic Landscape of Acute Myeloid Leukemia", published ...

A 150-year-old drug might improve radiation therapy for cancer

October 17, 2018
A drug first identified 150 years ago and used as a smooth-muscle relaxant might make tumors more sensitive to radiation therapy, according to a recent study led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

nanotech_republika_pl
not rated yet Jul 10, 2013
To kill the cancer you need to ensure that _all_ the pathways for the cancer getting nutrients are blocked. This is a situation covered by the "hallmarks of cancer" idea. Otherwise, one can imagine that cancer will find another pathway for not starving too death. For example, cancer can just slow down its growth but still mutate and more importantly it will still be there and will eventually kill the organism. Just slower.

Otherwise I love this news. See http://en.wikiped...f_cancer
nanotech_republika_pl
not rated yet Jul 10, 2013
Thanks. Next time I take time to read through.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.