New Cancer Treatment May Be More Effective Than Chemotherapy

Want to get rid of cancer while avoiding the unfavourable side effects of chemotherapy? Scientists may be on the right track to discovering how.

The most current and prevalent anti-cancer therapies include chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy. These processes include activating proteins called caspases which can lead to cell death. Although this method, known as apoptosis, has proven to be successful in the past, these therapies may not always kill all the cancer cells and often have negative side effects.

Research at the University of Glasgow focusses on developing a therapy that kills cancer cells while also mitigating unwanted toxicity. This research has shed light on a new method of killing cancer cells known as Caspase Independent Cell Death (CICD). This process led to the complete eradication of tumours in experimental models while avoiding the undesirable side effects of chemo.

According to Dr Stephen Tait, from the Institute of Cancer Sciences, this newly discovered cancer cell killing process has the ability to be more effective than current methods due to its ability to trigger tumour-specific CICD but not apoptosis which often leads to complete tumour regression.

Although this method is still in its early stages, the results generated by this research have thus far provided promising. Dr Justine Alford, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information officer, said: “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.

“This new research suggests there could be a better way to kill cancer cells which, as an added bonus, also activates the immune system. Now scientists need to investigate this idea further and, if further studies confirm it is effective, develop ways to trigger this particular route of cell death in humans.”