Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. It kills nearly 1.6 million people every year. Patients with non-small cell lung cancer can be treated with chemotherapy, but the cancer cells often develop resistance – and ultimately grow back. The chemotherapy initially works by halting cell growth: it blocks the action of a protein that sits on the cell’s surface and signals to the inside of the cell to tell it grow. This week, scientists have shown that resistance develops when tumour cells recruit other proteins to their surface to re-route their communication signals. This compensates for the chemotherapy, and may allow the cells to grow even faster! The researchers used this knowledge to develop a novel treatment that targets three different proteins at once. In an early study, the treatment prevented resistance and almost completely halted tumour growth (green) in mice, while leaving healthy cells (red) unharmed.
Find out about the MRC’s Clinical Sciences Centre’s work on cancer here and here.
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