Scientists have discovered a process to turn cancer cells back into normal cells by restoring the balance of key molecules controlling specific cellular functions.
A group of researchers from the Mayo Clinic carried out the research published in the journal Nature: Cell Biology on Monday.
Utilizing the new method in laboratory experiments, the team was able to successfully “reprogram” the out-of-control growth of the cells which would become cancerous. The team noted that further research is required in order to determine if the process would be applicable in human cells.
“The study brings together two so-far unrelated research fields — cell-to-cell adhesion and miRNA biology,” said Dr. Antonis Kourtidis from the Mayo Clinic.
The teams discovered that a protein called PLEKHA7 maintains cell’s normal growth and state with the use of micro RNAs, or miRNA. A decline in PLEKHA7 levels results in the misregulation of miRNAs that turn cadherin and p120 catenin from good to bad.
Based on the experiments reported in the study, if the miRNA in cancer cells is increased back to normal levels, the proteins also turn from bad to good which make cancer growth stop.
“By administering the affected miRNAs in cancer cells to restore their normal levels, we should be able to re-establish the brakes and restore normal cell function,” said Dr. Panos Anastasiadis, director of the department of cancer biology at Mayo’s Jacksonville campus. “Initial experiments in some aggressive types of cancer are indeed very promising.”