This New Treatment Makes Cancer Cells “Self Destruct,” Scientists Say

Updated: Mar. 04, 2021

This research is really promising.

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Good news: The future of cancer treatment has arrived. And among all of the recent genius cancer breakthroughs, this one certainly takes the cake. Scientists have just revealed a compound that makes cancer cells “self-destruct”—without harming healthy cells.

According to the research team at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, which discovered the compound, the treatment can activate apoptosis, a process in the human body that removes unwanted or faulty cells. (On the flip side, this one common food could make cancer cells multiply.)

During apoptosis, the “executioner protein” located within a cell—called BAX—targets and dismantles its energy-producing mechanisms, causing the cell to “commit suicide.” Unfortunately, cancer cells can suppress BAX, which allows them to spread.

Knowing this, senior author Dr. Gavathiotis and his team aimed to find a compound that could strengthen the ability of BAX against cancer cells. They used computers to screen over a million different compounds, eventually narrowing their search down to just one: a compound called BTSA1 (short for BAX Trigger Site Activator 1).

When the researchers tested BTSA1 on human blood samples from patients with a high risk of acute myeloid leukemia, they found that the BTSA1 caused the AML cells to self-destruct while leaving the healthy cells unharmed. What’s more, mice treated with BTSA1 had a longer survival rate, and 43 percent survived longer than 60 days and no longer carried AML in their system.

“Our novel compound revives suppressed BAX molecules in cancer cells by binding with high affinity to BAX’s activation site,” Dr. Gavathiotis told HuffPost UK. “BAX can then swing into action, killing cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unscathed.”

Scientists hope that future research will determine if BTSA1 is effective on other types of cancers, as well. Until then, those worried about their risk can memorize these simple ways to prevent cancer.

[Source: HuffPost UK]