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  1. ITV Report

World first treatment to fight cancer cells becoming drug-resistant

The new drugs will stop cancer cells from adapting or surviving new treatment. Credit: PA

The world's first drugs aimed at stopping cancer cells becoming resistant to treatment could be available within the next decade, scientists have said.

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) have hailed the 'Darwinian' drug which will tackle cancer’s lethal ability to evolve and become resistant to treatment.

Chief Executive Professor Paul Workman said drug resistance is the toughest challenge faced by those working against the disease.

The new medicine could help cancer patients live longer and better quality lives and make the condition manageable and "curable".

Drug resistance is the toughest challenge in fighting cancer. Credit: PA

Scientists said existing treatment such as chemotherapy fail because the deadliest cancer cells not killed off will adapt or survive and form new tumours.

Prof Workman said: "Cancer's ability to adapt, evolve and become drug resistant is the cause of the vast majority of deaths from the disease and the biggest challenge we face in overcoming it.

"At the ICR, we are changing the entire way we think about cancer, to focus on understanding, anticipating and overcoming cancer evolution."

The drugs could be available to patients in the next 10 years after a process of laboratory testing and clinical trials.

The new drugs could be available to patients in the next decade. Credit: PA

The ICR is developing a £75 million new Centre for Drug Discovery, where they are helping to advance the work programme.

Prof Workman is appealing for a a further £15 million to finish the project at its campus in Sutton, south London, which it said will bring together almost 300 scientists from various fields to work together on stopping cancer's evolution.

"We can bring together under one roof experts in cancer therapeutics alongside others studying evolution in animals, cells and individual patients, to create a new generation of cancer treatments," he added.

Scientists aim to use new approaches including multidrug combination treatments and artificial intelligence to "herd" cancer cells together.

Drugs will be developed in the new Centre for Drug Discovery. Credit: PA

AI has the potential to predict how cancer will behave and 'evolutionary herding' is essentially using cancer's survival instinct against it.

Dr Andrea Sottoriva said: "By encouraging cancer to evolve resistance to a treatment of our choice, we can cause it to develop weaknesses against other drugs - and hopefully send it down dead ends and to its own destruction."

Researchers are in the process of creating new drugs designed to stop the APOBEC molecule, which normally helps the immune system adapt, but is hijacked in more than half of cancer types to speed up the evolution of drug resistance.

Dr Olivia Rossanese, who will be head of biology at the new centre, said: "We believe this will be the first treatment in the world that rather than dealing with the consequences of cancer's evolution and resistance, aims to directly confront the disease's ability to adapt and evolve in the first place."