Posted by Minnie Mahendru on July 13, 2013

This is great news!! Maybe we have finally got the answer to make cancer therapy less painful and successful. A new treatment for cancer may help starve off cancer tumors without harming the healthy cells in the body.
Starve the cancer
Scientists have discovered a potential treatment for killing tumorous cancer cells by starving them and letting the healthy normal cells in the body unharmed. A professor at the University of Southampton in England from the Cellular Regulation in Biological Sciences along with the BC Cancer Agency Research Centre discovered that by aiming at the eEF2K or "Eukaryotic elongation factor-2 kinase,” in cancer cells , they could kill them without causing destruction of normal cells.

Cellular component eEF2K

"Cancer cells grow and divide much more rapidly than normal cells, meaning they have a much higher demand for and are often starved of, nutrients and oxygen," stated Professor Chris Proud .

He stated further that " We have discovered that a cellular component, eEF2K plays a critical role in allowing cancer cells to survive nutrient starvation, whilst normal, healthy cells do not usually require eEF2K in order to survive. Therefore, by blocking the function of eEF2K, we should be able to kill cancer cells, without harming normal, healthy cells in the process."

Chemotherapy and radiation

Maybe the patients, who are dealing the agonizing ordeal of traditional cancer therapies like radiotherapy and chemotherapy, can finally breathe a sigh of relief because of this unique method of starving off the cancerous cells.

Unlike traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which cause damage to normal cells, targeting eEF2K wouldn't hurt healthy cells, and it could also be used in treating a wide variety of cancers.
Every cell in the human body is made up of identical basic components so whenever one of them is targeted in a cancer cell and others having the same component in the normal cells will also be damaged.

Research implications

This recent study identifies a specific protein that is extremely important for the cancer cells to survive. "Activation of eEF2K... plays a protective role for cancer cells under metabolic stress conditions, and that targeting autophagic survival may represent a novel approach to enhancing the effectiveness of growth factor inhibitors,” said the experts.

This protein is not an essential in the normal cells and getting hold of a treatment that ends up blocking the protein will be a major breakthrough in cancer treatment especially if the normal cells stay healthy. In this way a wide variety of cancers can be treated.

At the moment Proud is working with his team, some pharmaceutical companies and other laboratories to come out with new drugs to block the eEF2K gene . Proud states “Protein synthesis — the creation of proteins within cells — is a fundamental process that enables cells to grow, divide and function. If it goes wrong, it can contribute to the development of cancer. We are interested in how defects in this process can cause cancers and other diseases.”

This cancer research is published in the journal Cell.

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