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Researchers Find Way to Make Cancer Cells Self-Destruct

Researchers Find Way to Make Cancer Cells Self-Destruct
(Luchschen/Dreamstime)

By    |   Tuesday, 02 July 2019 11:23 AM

Researchers have found a way to make cancer cells self-destruct — a discovery that could blow the door wide open for future treatment. Central to the research published in the Nature Cell Biology is a protein called ATF4. Researchers discovered that by blocking ATF4 cancer cells will produce too much protein and die. 

The breakthrough comes after years of research targeting the gene MYC, which is key to tumor growth, by starting a series of events after it mutates.. Experts have been working to block steps in the chain of events in an attempt to impede tumor growth. 

Until now the focus has been on an enzyme called PERK, which activates ATF4. But that has not worked as MYC also controls a second system that promotes tumor growth, almost like a backup in case the first system fails.

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania are now showing that targeting ATF4 itself could be more successful than focusing on blocking the MYC gene.

"What we've learned is that we need to go further downstream to block tumor growth in a way that cancer cells can't easily escape and our study identifies the target to do just that," said Constantinos Koumenis, Penn Medicine's vice president and research division director of radiation oncology.

The findings were made in mice but researchers said it could pave the way for a new therapeutic approach in humans. Future studies will now turn to further investigating ATF4 and why it works the way it does.

This could help better their understanding of whether there are other potential targets in the chain.

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Researchers have found a way to make cancer cells self-destruct - a discovery that could blow the door wide open for future treatment.
cancer, cells, self-destruct, researchers
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2019-23-02
Tuesday, 02 July 2019 11:23 AM
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