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New Treatment Method Subdues Multiple Cancers

1 year, 3 months ago

5140  0
Posted on Aug 06, 2017, 8 a.m.

Researchers have discovered that targeting the NOX4 enzyme can reduce tumor size by up to fifty percent

Specifically zeroing in on healthy cells that have been compromised by cancer cells may help treat numerous versions of the disease. This is the conclusion reached by some of the world's leading scientists after performing extensive research. The study was conducted by University of Southampton scientists. The effort was led by Professor Gareth Thomas. He is the University of Southampton's lead researcher and also serves as the institution's Chair of Experimental Pathology. The results of his team's work were recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

About the Findings

Targeting the enzyme referred to as NOX4 halts the action of the type of cell referred to as cancer associated fibroblasts. These cells are commonly referred to with the acronym of CAFs. Such targeting decreases tumor size by upwards of 50 percent in mice. Fibroblasts are best defined as healthy cells that hold various types of organs together. When cancer cells hijack them, they develop into CAFs and likely catalyze tumor growth. Scientists also believe these new CAFs spread tumors throughout the body and even combat forms of therapy.  

Attempts to target CAFs were unsuccessful until the recent breakthrough. University of Southampton scientists determined particularly high CAF levels are linked to a decreased survival rate in a number of cancers including bowel, neck and head cancers. This is the first time a scientific team has determined NOX4 is essential for the formation of CAFs and spurs tumor growth in several different types of cancer. This can be stopped by blocking off NOX4 with a drug currently being developed to treat the condition known as organ fibrosis.

Why the Findings are Important

As Cancer Research UK's Dr. Aine McCarthy notes, certain cancers are extremely difficult to treat and often use the body's cells to facilitate growth, bypass treatment and move throughout the body. Scientists have spent years attempting to determine why this phenomenon occurs. The study referenced above is a step in the right direction as it will help scientists fully understand how and why cancers behave in such a manner.

The findings show it is possible to target CAFs with a drug. They also show it is even possible to reverse CAFs pro-tumor effects in mice. The hope is these findings will serve as the foundation for new treatments. They will also help improve cancer responses to drugs that are currently available. The University of Southampton scientists are now receiving funding from Cancer Research UK to determine if the approach outlined above enhances treatments like chemotherapy and immunotherapy. 

Christopher J. Hanley, Massimiliano Mellone, Kirsty Ford, Steve M. Thirdborough, Toby Mellows, Steven J. Frampton, David M. Smith, Elena Harden, Cedric Szyndralewiez, Marc Bullock, Fergus Noble, Karwan A. Moutasim, Emma V. King, Pandurangan Vijayanand, Alex H. Mirnezami, Timothy J. Underwood, Christian H. Ottensmeier, Gareth J. Thomas. Targeting the Myofibroblastic Cancer-Associated Fibroblast Phenotype Through Inhibition of NOX4. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2018; 110 (1) DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djx121

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