Sep 16, 2022

Self-Assembling Molecules “Suffocate” and Eliminate Cancer Cells

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry

Development of medical treatment against cancer is a major research topic worldwide — but cancer often manages to circumvent the solutions found. Scientists around Tanja Weil and David Ng at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P), have now taken a closer look at the cancer’s countermeasures and aim to stop them. By disrupting the cellular components that are responsible for converting oxygen into chemical energy, they have demonstrated initial success in eliminating cells derived from untreatable metastatic cancer.

Treatment of cancer is a long-term process because remnants of living cancer cells often evolve into aggressive forms and become untreatable. Hence, treatment plans often involve multiple drug combinations and/or radiation therapy in order to prevent cancer relapse. To combat the variety of cancer cell types, modern drugs have been developed to target specific biochemical processes that are unique within each cell type.

However, cancer cells are highly adaptive and able to develop mechanisms to avoid the effects of the treatment. “We want to prevent such adaptation by invading the main pillar of cellular life — how cells breathe – that means take up oxygen — and thus produce chemical energy for growth,” says David Ng, group leader at the MPI-P.