Discovery May Improve Cancer Therapy
Researchers say they have discovered a new way to shrink and even destroy human tumors in animals by manipulating a specific protein.
Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have been studying a protein called NF-kappa B that attaches itself to DNA inside cells and turns genes on and off like a switch.
Researchers found that NF-kappa B may protect both healthy and cancerous cells from chemicals, such as chemotherapy.
Researchers used gene therapy to block NF-kappa B in mice that had human colorectal and fibrosarcoma tumors growing in their bodies, making them more susceptible to cancer-fighting drugs. The mice then received chemotherapy, which caused some tumors to disappear completely, researchers report in the April issue of Nature Medicine.
"These findings provide new insight into why many cancer cells frequently don't die when exposed to chemotherapy," says researcher Dr. James C. Cusack. "The approach demonstrates a successful means of how we might overcome cancer cells' defense mechanisms to make treatment more effective."
--By Katrina Woznicki