Scientists say a newly discovered method of killing cancer cells could be the most effective treatment yet.
A recently discovered method of eradicating cancer cells can potentially eliminate tumours and minimize the threat of debilitating side effects and disease recurrence, according to scientists.
This process is termed Caspase Independent Cell Death (CICD), and thus far in experimental models, the process has successfully removed tumours in their entirety.
Presently, treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy are the currently adopted methods of killing cancer cells. They all act through the process of cell death or apoptosis, in which proteins called caspases are activated in the body.
Nevertheless, these treatments come with their own range of harmful and debilitating side effects, and are also not entirely successfully in completely eradicating cancer from the body. Resultantly, recurrence of cancer is common with these methods.
Dr Stephen Tait, who led the University of Glasgow research into CICD, said the new method “often led to complete tumour regression” and “may be a more effective way to treat cancer” than apoptosis.
“In essence, this mechanism has the potential to dramatically improve the effectiveness of anti-cancer therapy and reduce unwanted toxicity. Taking into consideration our findings, we propose that engaging CICD as a means of anti-cancer therapy warrants further investigation.” He said.
When the CICD method kills cancer cells, these cells alert the immune system via inflammatory proteins cascade. The immune system then attacks tumour cells which escaped the initial treatment.
Scientists used colorectal cancer cells as an experimental model, however the benefits of CICD can also extend to a variety of other cancer types. According to Cancer Research UK, which partly funded the research, scientists much focus on further researching this method, and develop ways that it can be triggered in humans.
“Although many cancer treatments work by triggering apoptosis, that method sometimes fails to finish the job and instead may lead to the tumour becoming harder to treat,” spokesperson Dr Justine Alford said. “This new research suggests there could be a better way to kill cancer cells which, as an added bonus, also activates the immune system.”