Cancer drugs 'suffocate cells'

A new molecule that prevents cancer cells from responding and surviving when starved of oxygen and which could be developed into new treatments for the disease, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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New find is 'step towards drugs that could halt cancer'

Dr Julie Sharp, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said:

Finding ways to disrupt the tools that cancer cells use to adapt and grow when starved of oxygen has been a hot topic in cancer research, but finding drugs that do this effectively has proved elusive.

For the first time our scientists have found a way to block a master switch controlling cells response to low levels of oxygen - an important step towards creating drugs that could halt cancer in its tracks.

How new cancer fighting molecule works

Cancer Research UK scientists at the University of Southampton found that a new molecule targets the master switch - HIF-1 - that cancer cells use to adapt to low oxygen levels, a common feature in the disease.

Scientists have discovered a new molecule that prevents cancer cells from surviving when starved of oxygen. Credit: Mpi Muenster/DPA/Press Association Images

The researchers uncovered a way to stop cancer cells using this switch through an approach called 'synthetic biology'. By testing 3.2 million potential compounds, made by specially engineered bacteria, they were able to find a molecule that stopped HIF-1 from working.

This prevented the cancer cells from responding and surviving.

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New drugs could 'suffocate cancer cells'

Dr Ali Tavassoli, a Cancer Research UK scientist whose team discovered and developed the compound at the University of Southampton, said:

We've found a way to target the steps that cancer cells take to survive and we hope that our research will one day lead to effective drugs that can stop cancers adapting to a low oxygen environment, stopping their growth. The next step is to further develop this molecule to create an effective treatment.

Suffocating tumours could lead to new cancer drugs

Scientists have discovered a new molecule that prevents cancer cells from surviving when starved of oxygen. Credit: CTK CZECH NEWS AGENCY/Czech News Agency/Press Association Images

Scientists have discovered a new molecule that prevents cancer cells from responding and surviving when starved of oxygen and which could be developed into new treatments for the disease, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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