According to researchers, an experimental drug could finally let doctors treat half of cancers, which often become drug resistant and defy treatment.
The story, published in MailOnline says rsearchers from the University of California, San Francisco used a drug that is already under development by Revolution Medicines. The drug helps slow the growth of lung, skin, colon and pancreatic cells in controlled environments.
Scientists say that the cancers they hope to treat are particularly stubborn thanks to mutations that make cells grow out of control.
Following successful experimentation on animals, the researchers plan to expedite it to clinical trials, where it could change the way doctors treat half of the most stubborn, deadly cancers they encounter.
Body tissues may become cancerous because any cell's copying process can be corrupted by genetic mutations that cause it to grow out of control.
Our tissues are constantly repairing themselves by creating more cells and as the instructions for cell division are passed down the line, they're vulnerable to get interrupted, which can then cause a genetic mutation that causes cells to multiply out of control.
One of the signalling pathways involved is the MAPK/ERK pathway. Messages to turn cell division 'on' or 'off' travel through this pathway. But if one of the proteins that acts like a switch gets stuck in one position or the other, divide out of control, becoming a cancer.
The best way to get rid of these tumors is to surgically remove them, but they can also become too large and entangled with healthy tissue for this to be possible.
In this case, doctors use chemo or radiation to attack rapidly dividing cells, but sometimes it is too late, and this does not rewrite the instructions for division itself.
But a drug that effectively rewrote the MAPK/ERK pathway instructions to get the 'on/off' switch protein back to its normal position could be a game-changer for the treatment of many cancers.
By targeting an even earlier point in the line of communication, the University of California, San Francisco scientists were able to essentially mute the external signals telling the cells to grow by blocking a molecule called SHP2.