SCIENTISTS have new hope in the fight against cancer after finding a treatment which works better than chemotherapy.
Powerful chemotherapy drugs often fail to kill all of a tumour’s cells so some cancers return.
Now scientists say they have found a way to prompt the immune system into helping to kill the remaining cancer cells.
It has only been proven to work in the lab, using human cells, but trials on people could start within five years, with a new drug available within a decade. Cancer Research UK funded the research led by the Beatson Institute in Glasgow.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy destroy tumours by triggering apoptosis, or programmed cell death. But apoptosis happens naturally all the time in billions of our cells, so the immune system does not realise anything unusual is happening.
The researchers hope to develop a new drug which will cause a tumour’s cells to die much more slowly.
This unusual activity should trigger the immune system to join in with killing all the cancer cells.
It has been successful in bowel cancer cells, using a gene-editing tool to remove the proteins which cause programmed cell death.
The team hope this can be converted into a drug to treat many different types of cancer.
The new method of killing cancer cells, called Caspase-Independent Cell Death, is outlined in the journal Nature Cell Biology.
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