WASHINGTON: In a landmark new study, researchers at Northwestern University, Illinois found that our cells can kill themselves and believe it could be utilised for the future fight against cancer.
The research published Oct. 29 in Nature Communications describing each human cell has an embedded “kill code” and identifying how the cancer-fighting microRNAs use the code which can cause its own self-destruction.
According to lead author Marcus Peter, PhD, the Tom D. Spies Professor of Cancer Metabolism, “Now that we know the kill code, we can trigger the mechanism without having to use chemotherapy and without messing with the genome. We can use these small RNAs directly, introduce them into cells and trigger the kill switch.”
Chemotherapy has several side effects, some of which cause secondary cancers. “We found weapons that are downstream of chemotherapy,” noted Peter.
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Following nature’s lead
“My goal was not to come up with a new artificial toxic substance,” Peter said. “I wanted to follow nature’s lead. I want to utilize a mechanism that nature developed.”
Peter,is also a professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology and of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University previously published another research in 2017.
In the researcher’s own words, “It’s like committing suicide by stabbing yourself, shooting yourself, and jumping off a building all at the same time. You cannot survive.” “As soon as the cell’s inner bodyguards sense it is mutating into cancer, they punch in the kill code to extinguish the mutating cell,” adds the research.
The first of the two studies was published in the journal eLIfe.