Every single cell in the human body contains a code that is, in reality, the killer of cancer as it is capable of causing the self-destruction of every cell that might turn cancerous, a new Northwestern Medicine study revealed. This process triggers the termination of the mutating cells before they transform into cancerous ones.
This “killer of cancer” is encoded into the high protein-coding ribonucleic acids (RNAs) and in small RNAs, called microRNAs. The scientists believe that this system evolved about 800 million years ago to protect the organism from cancer.
“Now that we know the kill code, we can trigger the mechanism without having to use chemotherapy and without messing with the genome. We can use these small RNAs directly, introduce them into cells and trigger the kill switch,” explained Marcus E. Peter, a researcher at the Cancer Metabolism at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and the new study’s leading author.
The Killer of Cancer “Lives” Within Every Cell in The Human Body
“We found weapons that are downstream of chemotherapy. My goal was not to come up with a new artificial toxic substance. I wanted to follow nature’s lead. I want to utilize a mechanism that nature developed,” added Marcus E. Peter.
In previous research published in 2007, Marcus E. Peter revealed that cancer cells died when specific small RNA molecules were introduced in the equation. Back then, he also showed that cancer cells never boosted their resistance when treated with the RNA molecules as these eliminated the multiple genes cancer relies upon for its survival.
In the new study, however, Peter discovered that microRNAs molecules are highly-toxic for cancer cells.
“Based on what we have learned in these two studies, we can now design artificial microRNAs that are much more powerful in killing cancer cells than even the ones developed by nature. We absolutely need to turn this into a novel form of therapy,” Marcus E. Peter concluded.