In order to survive, cancer cells often rely on the protein kinase C epsilon (PKC-epsilon) signaling pathway to sort out tangled DNA that would otherwise trigger their destruction, according to a team at Cancer Research UK. So blocking the pathway could mark another line of attack against those cancers that depend on that "lifeline" the most.
The self-destruction of cancer cells, apoptosis, has been a big field in oncology. And this pathway has come up in the lab before. One of its advantages would be to specifically target cancer cells, as the investigators say that normal, healthy cells rarely depend on this pathway.
Blocking the pathway would break the code and force the cell to be ripped up as the cell divides. Their work was published in Nature Communications on Monday.
Now the focus is shifting to determining which cancers are most vulnerable to this line of attack, and which biomarkers could be used in early-stage research to help determine which patients should be recruited for studies.
"This research has uncovered an important weakness which we could use to tackle cancer," says Nell Barrie, Cancer Research UK's senior science information manager. "Newer, precise methods which target the dents in cancer's armory provide fresh opportunities for better treatments to help more people survive the disease. There's still a lot of work to do before this research leads to a new cancer treatment, but it offers us a new strategy to beat the disease by helping us to understand what causes and drives cancer."
- here's the release
- read the research article