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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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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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