Scientists discover way to ‘target chemo-resistant cells’

28 April 2014

A new method to cause cells to become sensitive to chemotherapy and more open to treatment has been discovered by scientists from the University of Manchester.

The study could be vital in the development of medicines designed to target cells that have become resistant to treatment.

Researchers made this discovery when examining the potential mechanisms behind how these cells are able to become desensitised to chemotherapy drugs like Paclitaxel - often used to treat breast and colon cancer.

Cells are able to divide and copy themselves through a process called mitosis, which is controlled as any mistakes can cause the cells to die.

Dr Andrew Gilmore, lead author of the study, said: "Failure of cells to complete mitosis correctly can be the start of cancer. We wanted to understand how this failure – delay of cell division - activates apoptosis, and why some cancer cells may be able to avoid being killed."

Chemotherapy treatments target mitosis to quickly kill rapidly dividing cancer cells. However, these cells can develop a resistance to such drugs. 

Researchers discovered that a protein known as ‘Bid’ plays an important role in colon cancer. 

Dr Gilmore added: "Our findings demonstrate that Bid plays a central role in mitosis-related cell death. This opens up new areas of research into drugs that might be able to kill cancer cells that have become resistant to chemotherapy.”

Posted by Philip Briggs

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