I’m generally optimistic that cancer will be eradicated in a decade or so — based on the frequency with which interesting potential cures are reported. Just today there were rather two (possibly synergistic) ideas that surfaced in my news reading. The first is a method of delivering cancer-killing drugs selectively, and deep inside the tumors. The second is a new type of cancer-killing drug. I like to imagine the combination as a one-two knockout punch, but time will tell.
Salmonella Bacteria Turned Into Cancer Fighting ‘Robots’ – University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers are turning Salmonella bacteria into tumor killing “robots” that use their flagella to go deep into tumors where conventional chemotherapy can’t reach, and once in place, manufacture drugs that trigger cancer cells to kill themselves. Normally, mice with tumors all die within 30 days. After receiving this bacterial system and getting a dose of radiation, all the mice in their lab tests survived beyond the 30 days, which could translate into months or years in people. [link]
First evidence that blocking key energy protein kills cancer cells – The researchers analyzed tissue samples from breast cancer patients and found for the first time that the surface of breast cancer cells contains high levels of ATP synthase. In cell studies, exposing breast cancer cells to a substance that blocks ATP synthase killed the cancer cells but did not harm normal cells, the researchers say. The findings suggest that ATP synthase inhibitors may represent a new approach for fighting breast cancer and other cancer types, they say. [link]
Update…. Just a day later, and another really interesting bit of anti-cancer research. The “nanoimpeller” does not move about like the salmonella virus, but it does have a nice light powered chemical release device. I imagine that you’d have to be kept out of bright light after receiving drugs in this form.
UCLA researchers design nanomachine that kills cancer cells – Researchers from the Nano Machine Center at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA have developed a novel type of nanomachine that can capture and store anticancer drugs inside tiny pores and release them into cancer cells in response to light. Known as a “nanoimpeller,” the device is the first light-powered nanomachine that operates inside a living cell, a development that has strong implications for cancer treatment. [link]