There is a rogue gene that is the main culprit causing cancer to spread. More specifically, it is an enzymic bonding agent that destroys the body's natural defenses against cancers pushing ahead. Researchers have discovered that by developing a drug that blocks the gene, WWP2, the body's naturally reproduced inhibitor will thrive and keep cancerous cells at bay.
This understanding of how cancer spreads and operates is a breakthrough and new drugs need to be immediately developed to stop this inhibitor inhibitor if you will, in its tracks. Cancer in its late stages spreads to other parts of the body and eventually takes over and kills. If a drug was developed that deactivated WWP2, conventional therapies and surgery could be used on primary tumors, with no risk of the disease taking hold elsewhere.
When a cancer spreads from its original site to another area of the body, it is termed metastatic cancer. Virtually all cancers have the potential to spread this way. Whether metastases develops depends on the complex interaction of many tumor cell factors, including the type of cancer, the degree of maturity (differentiation) of the tumor cells, the location and how long the cancer has been present, as well as other incompletely understood factors.
The treatment of metastatic cancer depends on where the cancer started. When breast cancer spreads to the lungs, for example, it remains a breast cancer and the treatment is determined by the tumor's origin within the breast, not by the fact that it is now in the lung. About 5 percent of the time, metastases are discovered but the primary tumor cannot be identified. The treatment of these metastases is dictated by their location rather than their origin.
Andrew Chantry, of UEA's School of Biological Sciences states:
"The challenge now is to identify a potent drug that will get inside cancer cells and destroy the activity of the rogue gene. This is a difficult but not impossible task, made easier by the deeper understanding of the biological processes revealed in this study."
The study was published in this week's edition of Oncogene and funded by UK-based charity the Association of International Cancer Research (AICR), with additional support from the Big C Charity and the British Skin Foundation. A development of a new generation of drugs within the next decade could be used to stop the aggressive spread of most forms of the disease, including breast, brain, colon and skin cancer.
Dr. Mark Matfield, scientific co-coordinator of AICR continued:
"This is a very exciting new discovery and a perfect example of the way that basic research into cancer can open up ways to develop new ways to treat cancer."
Dr. Surinder Soond, who led the laboratory team concludes:
"This is a very novel and exciting approach to treating cancer and the spread of tumors which holds great potential."
Tumors are masses caused by uncontrolled cell growth. They are also called neoplasms. Tumors occur when cells start to duplicate with no checks in place, causing a proliferation of cells. Normally, the body carefully regulates cell production, ensuring that cells are duplicated as needed, but not allowed to grow uncontrollably. When a cell becomes mutated, however, it duplicates itself rapidly, cloning copies of the damaged cell and creating a neoplasm.
This new research suggests that a new string of drug treatments can stop this process from occurring almost entirely.
Written By Sy Kraft, B.A.