Newly discovered molecules can entrap cancer stem cells

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The doctors, so far, do not have an answer to the deadly question of cancer. Either the surgical removal of tumors or the use of chemotherapy and radiotherapy is not the ultimate answer to cancer. There still remains the source of the recurrence. This recurrence is due to the cancer stem cells which remain hidden inside the tissues.

You can cut off the plants, but it will drop the seeds. You know the seeds are there, but they are hiding. After you pull out a weed, the other will appear again. Cancer may also like this – William Taylor, a biologist 
at the University of TOLEDO

However, a new study bears some hope as to the eliminating of these cancer stem cells. Early experiments done by using a newly discovered molecule has shown that it can lock the cancer stem cells and the cells would not be able to absorb what they need to survive in a body.

The discovery of the nanoparticles which is part of the new promising advances in cancer studies was prompted by John Dick’s discovery of the cancer stem cells in the mid-1990s. Both Taylor and his colleague Viranga Tillekeratne are devoted to improving the existing chemotherapy drugs and are currently working on to develop new and improved anticancer agents, epothilone and paclitaxel.

In the process, we synthesized a molecule that kills selected cancer cell lines by a different mechanism than epothilone and paclitaxel. Further simplification of the structure leads to the identification of these small molecules with reported anti-cancer activity – Viranga Tillekeratne

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Scientists have designed some experiments to test their latest discovery, and they have, in a way, succeeded, as the cancer stem cells have proven to be very sensitive to these molecules which “lock” the cancer cells in and prevent them from absorbing cystine, a necessity for a cancer cell to sustain.  

Blocking cystine leads to a decrease in glutathione, which increases cell membrane damage and leads to cell death – William Taylor

He also added, “To be clear, we are in the early stages of this research. This is not to say that there is no hope. We only need to develop our molecules as anticancer drugs.”

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