Another Potential Commonality in the Mechanisms of Cancer

Any method to distinguish or interfere with cancer cells that is broadly applicable to a majority of cancer types will greatly reduce the threat of cancer in old age. Cancer is dangerous precisely because it is so very varied, both between types and between individual tumors. I remain confident that there must be numerous commonalities in the low-level mechanisms of cancer that reflect the commonalities in its behavior, however. There is, for example, the need for lengthening of telomeres that forms the basis of the SENS approach to eliminate cancer as a possibility in human biology.

Some other candidates are emerging, such as targeting CD47 with antibodies to strip cancer cells of a method they all appear to use to avoid destruction by the immune system. Here is news of another potentially actionable mechanism that might be shared by many cancer types:

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 cellular component, eEF2K, plays a critical role in allowing cancer cells 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. A treatment that could block this protein could represent a significant breakthrough in the future of cancer treatment.

Traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy cause damage to healthy cells, and other more targeted treatments are usually only effective for individual types of cancer. Contrastingly, this new development does not damage healthy cells and could also be used to treat a wide variety of different cancers. [Researchers] 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.

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-07/uos-sdg071113.php

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