The discovery could revolutionize how chemotherapy is used.
Researchers from Hebrew University recently published a new technique that singles out cancer cells from healthy ones, enabling cancer patients to receive less chemotherapy and thus suffer fewer side effects. The findings were published in Frontiers in Pharmacology.
The research team is headed by Professor Alexander Binshtok, head of the Pain Plasticity Research Group at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Medicine and Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences.
“Most anti-cancer treatments are not sufficiently specific, meaning they attack healthy cells together with the malignant ones they’re trying to get rid of,” explained Binshtok, according to Arutz Sheva. “This leads to the many serious side-affects associated with chemotherapy. Eliminating cancerous cells while leaving healthy ones alone is an important step towards reduce patients’ suffering.”
The new findings allow chemotherapy drugs to directly strike malignant cells, bypassing healthy one.
It is hoped that the discovery will reduce the amount of chemotherapy doses a patient must endure. Many patients stop treatment due to the severity of chemotherapy side-effects. Additionally, cancer patients often die from the side effects of chemotherapy, such as malnutrition, rather than the cancer they are being treated for.
The study was performed on liver cancer cells using the selective expression of the TRPV2 protein by cancer cells. TRPV2 protein opens a canal inside cell membranes. The scientists were able to “insert a low dose of doxorubicin, a chemotherapeutic agent, through the canal and directly into cancer cells,” according to the report.
It is hoped that the findings will eventually allow precision delivery of chemotherapy to cancer cells, thus lowering doses and relieving patients of the drug’s harsh side effects.