A study published in Nature Cell Biology has revealed an incredible new breakthrough: cancer cells in the lab can be turned back into normal cells.
It has to do with a molecule called microRNA, and the protein it triggers: PLEKHA7. MicroRNA are responsible for telling cells to stop dividing, and the protein PLEKHA7 does their bidding and breaks cell bonds — thereby prohibiting the cells from dividing continually and turning cancerous.
“So we have identified two key components,” says Panos Anastasiadis, Ph.D., chair of Mayo Clinic’s Department of Cancer Biology in Jacksonville, Florida. “One seems to be…driving tumor progression and growth; and the other that is acting as a brake, that’s basically inhibiting it. We have also looked at human tumor samples, and we have found that the brake is missing in the vast majority of these cancers. So what we see in cancer patients is that we have a lot of the gas, but we have no brake.”
Until now, that is.
They found that cancer cells that have insufficient microRNA levels or are missing the protein PLEKHA7 can have those levels restored — and in turn, be turned back into a normal cell.
Researchers in the lab discovered that they can turn normal cells cancerous by removing the microRNAs. So then they tried reversing the process by adding microRNAs directly into to cancerous cells that were missing it. The result? The cells stopped dividing.
So far they’ve had promising results in the lab on aggressive types of breast, lung, and bladder cancer cells. Incredibly, this discovery may make treatment staples like chemotherapy a thing of the past! Researchers also think this may make it easier to diagnose tumor biopsies as either malignant or benign.
Watch the video below.