In a major scientific breakthrough, scientists have reprogrammed cancer cells to their normal state, which could lead to new treatments and even reverse tumour growth.
By restoring the process that prevents the cell from multiplying or forming dangerous growths, aggressive breast, lung, and bladder cancer cells have been turned back into harmless benign cells. It’s similar to applying the brakes to a speeding car, says the Mayo Clinic.
“We should be able to re-establish the brakes and restore normal cell function,” said Profesor Panos Anastasiadis, of the Department for Cancer Biology.
“Initial experiments in some aggressive types of cancer are indeed very promising. It represents an unexpected new biology that provides the code, the software for turning off cancer.”
Cancer experts in Britain said the research solved a riddle that biologists had puzzled over for decades: why cells didn’t naturally impede the spread of cancer.
“This is an unexpected finding,” said Dr. Chris Bakal, a specialist in how cells change shape to become cancerous, at the Institute for Cancer Research in London.
“We have been trying to work out how normal cells might be suppressing cancer, and stopping dividing when they form contacts with each other, which has been a big mystery.
“Normal cells touch each other and form junctions then they shut down proliferation. If there is a way to turn that back on then that would be a way to stop tumours from growing.”
The research was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.