The University of NSW in Australia, have discovered a new, protein based treatment. This actually destroys the cancer internally, targeting protein structures, called tropomyosin. The scientists, who recently published their article in the Journal Cancer Research, indicate that this may yield new treatment strategies for those afflicted with the terrible disease.
This allows the treatment to attack the primary source that causes the cancer, without doing any harm to the heart or muscle cells.
The new effective treatment causes the cancer cells to collapse in on themselves, without causing any harm to the healthy cells in the body. Professor Peter Gunning says that this process happens rather quickly, and may play a part in the treatment of a childhood based pathology, called neuroblastoma, and might even be effective in combating melanoma cancer cells.
Neuroblastoma is a rare form of cancer that primarily affects infants, and frequently develops as a neuroendocrine tumor over the adrenal glands, situated above the kidneys. However, the cancer can also manifest at various parts along the nerve tissue, from the abdomen upward. Secondary metastases can also crop up in a variety of different locations, which can impact upon the severity of symptoms and global disease progression.
Studies have looked into the cause of neuroblastoma, with possible links suggested between the condition and lifestyle factors, infection and genetics; however, conclusions remain conflicting, and we have yet to establish the disease’s definitive cause.
The symptoms of the disease can vary, depending upon the location of the cancer. However, abdominal swelling, respiratory issues and neurological symptoms are all common, as is bone cancer, resulting from the cancer’s metastatic spread.
The group used a new drug, called TR100, to inhibit the development of melanoma and neuroblastoma tumors in mouse models. The C57/BL6 animal models were administered B16/F10 (melanoma) cells, whilst a different group of mice were injected with CHP134 (neuroblastoma) cells. Certain groups were then treated with a placebo, whilst others received different doses of the TR100 treatment (20 and 30mg/kg-1 over a period of two to three weeks). It was discovered, as indicated by the results of the scientists’ experiment, that the mouse models experienced tumor volume shrinkage, on quite a considerable scale, suggesting this to be a potential treatment strategy for these pathologies.
Neuroblastoma has a very poor prognosis, with survival rates as low as 40% for patients falling into the high-risk category.
Previous attempts during similar studies have been tried, but subsequently failed, causing a lot of damage to cells of the heart and muscle, which also posses the same tropomyosin protein structures as the cancer they were trying to eliminate. However, the team now believe they have circumvented this problem, leading to a new source of treatment, which will be trialed in 2015, subject to available funding.
Written By: Landi Bezuidenhout