Researchers at Tel Aviv University have discovered that the “cell death mechanism” found in every healthy cell can also be modulated to kill infected cells. Experiments carried out on mice have given hope for beginning experimentation on humans.

New hope for cancer patients?

New hope for cancer patients? Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Researchers from Tel Aviv University claim that they have discovered a new and safe alternative for fighting aggressive cancer cells, according to which would utilize a mechanism that already exists in healthy cells called cell death which prevents errors in cell division. This mechanism can be modulated to kill aggressive tumors, some of which are immune to current treatments.

During the experiment, which was published in the Oncotarget journal, researchers injected molecules called phenanthridine into cancer cells and checked the mice’s results. Through the injection, they were able to identify specific proteins that change within cancer cells.

The researchers then tested the efficiency of the cell death mechanism in mice that had human tumors implanted in them. As a result of the treatment, the tumor growth stopped and two weeks later, the tumors were significantly smaller in comparison with mice who did not receive the treatment.

“In 2009, we already discovered that molecules derived from phenanthridine (three-tertiary hydrocarbons) effectively kill metastatic breast cancer cells that do not respond to the usual treatments,” stated Professor Cohen-Armon, who is one of the head researchers. “Afterwards, we tested the molecules’ effect on treatment-resistant cells that were taken from other types of human malignant tumors – ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, a rare type of brain cancer and lung cancer – and we discovered that these molecules effectively kill all of them within 48 to 96 hours.”