New Method to Fight Cancer With Molecular Fibers

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Cancer Cells Web of Death

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The physical structures of cancer cells are interrupted by a web forming within the cells – which triggers their self-destruction system. Credit: MPI-P

According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, cancer is among the most regular causes of death, representing nearly 25% of all deaths cases. Chemotherapy is frequently utilized as a treatment, however likewise brings negative effects for healthy organs. Scientists around David Ng, group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, are now attempting to take a totally various method: By indicates of targeted and localized interruption of the cancer cells’ structure, its self-destruction system can be triggered. In lab experiments, they have actually currently shown preliminary successes.

Cancer is an illness in which cells increase frantically, which might cause tumor development. In addition to radiation treatment, cancer is frequently combated with chemotherapy: The chemicals administered impact different biochemical procedures of the body, particularly of the cancer cells making sure that a growth can no longer grow and gradually passes away.

Chemotherapy, nevertheless, is difficult for the body and it can end up being inefficient with time: In addition to negative effects, the cancer can often adjust to the chemicals, withstand their results and develop brand-new methods of growing even more. “We have now tried to take a different approach and not to influence the cancer by interfering with the biochemical processes, but to attack its structure directly,” states Dr. David Ng, group leader in Prof. Tanja Weil’s department at the Max Planck Institute of Polymer Research.

The researchers have actually artificially produced a kind of molecular Lego brick for this function and these bricks take a trip into both typical and cancer cells through an unique accessory. The Lego brick alone is safe, nevertheless, the special conditions present in cancer cells set a series of chain reactions in movement. “In cancer tissue, the environment is much more acidic than in normal tissue,” states Ng. “In addition, much more highly reactive oxidative molecules are found within the cancer cells due to the cancer’s increased metabolic activity – and we take advantage of that”.

If both conditions are fulfilled, the person Lego bricks can link – and hence form a big web-like network. This web, which grows inside the cancer cells, is incredibly steady and warps the cancer cells from the within out. Unable to handle the physical tension, the cancer cell triggers its own self-destruction system. “We thus attack the cancer cell in a way it cannot defend itself against,” states Ng.

The scientists have actually up until now examined the approach on cancer cells in a lab culture and had the ability to show that the cells pass away within a really brief time of around 4 hours. In the future, their approach might potentially represent an option to cancer treatment and more research studies are continuous.

As a point of view, Ng, Weil and coworkers will continue to deal with increasing the accuracy of the contortion and on the biodegradation of the web after the cancer cells have actually passed away.

They have actually released their lead to the popular Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Reference: “Controlled Supramolecular Assembly Inside Living Cells by Sequential Multistaged Chemical Reactions” by Michaela Pieszka, Shen Han, Christiane Volkmann, Robert Graf, Ingo Lieberwirth, Katharina Landfester, David Y. W. Ng and Tanja Weil, 19 August 2020, Journal of the American Chemical Society.
DOI: 10.1021/jacs.0c05261



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