Healthcare research shows how cancer cells 'cheat death'

9th June 2011

Healthcare research conducted at the University of Western Ontario in Canada has shown one way in which cancer cells may "cheat death" and resist treatment.

David Litchfield and his team at the university identified how biochemical pathways could be rewired in cancer cells to allow them to ignore signals that would trigger death in ordinary non-cancerous cells, allowing them to survive treatment.

Mr Litchfield said: "Our work provides encouragement for the development of novel therapeutic approaches that would prevent or neutralise this rewiring to make sure that cancer cells respond to treatment."

The research was carried out with a focus on understanding how the cells acquire this selective survival advantage which allows them to avoid normal cell-turnover and chemically-induced death.

A study published in Cell last year showed how cells which were resistant to treatment may be altered to respond, through a 'drug holiday', in which they may become more sensitive to treatment.

Posted by Edward Bartel.

1. Duncan et al. "A Peptide-Based Target Screen Implicates the Protein Kinase CK2 in the Global Regulation of Caspase Signaling." Science Signalling. 10TH May 2011.
2. Sreenath V. Sharma et al. "A Chromatin-Mediated Reversible Drug-Tolerant State in Cancer Cell Subpopulations." Cell. 2010.

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