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Could Sticky Balls Kill Cancer?

Could Sticky Balls Kill Cancer?

Recent news has stated that the UK and Ireland suffer more deaths from cancer than Europe; around 331,487 people a year are diagnosed with the disease in the UK. We are especially vulnerable to colon, lung, kidney, ovarian and stomach cancer. Fortunately new research is always underway to discover more about deadly cancer, so one day it can be beaten.

There are 3 ways cancer spreads; directly, via the lymphatic system, and via the bloodstream. The latter is particularly dangerous, because cancer that spreads via the bloodstream can reach many parts of the body, this is called metastasis. 90% of cancer related deaths occur due to metastatic cancer and at the moment there are only limited ways to prevent it.

The latest breakthrough is the potential of ‘sticky balls’ to destroy tumour cells and prevent cancer spreading to other parts of the body, which is the deadliest stage of tumour progression. The use of ‘sticky balls’ was found by Cornell University in the USA, who created nanoparticles that remain in the bloodstream and attack passing cancer cells.

Trail, a cancer killing protein, was attached to the nanoparticles and injected into the bloodstream where they latched onto white blood cells. Whilst travelling in the bloodstream the white blood cells bumped into moving tumour cells that where cast off from the main tumour and prevented them spreading.

A report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggested contact with the Trail protein caused the death of the tumour cells. Evidence so far shows the treatment has no negative effect on the immune system, nor does it damage other blood cells or the lining of blood vessels.

Lead researcher Professor Michael King believes nanoparicle treatment could be used before surgery or radiotherapy, as these treatments cause tumour cells to disperse from the main tumour. Additionally the treatment could be used in highly aggressive cases of cancer to prevent it spreading.

Though a lot more research needs to be done Professor King said “The results were quite remarkable actually, in human blood and in mice. After two hours of blood flow, they [the tumour cells] literally disintegrated.”

Testing needs to be thoroughly conducted on mice and larger animals before any attempt at a human trial is made. The Professor cautioned;”Various breakthroughs are needed before this could be a benefit to patients.”

It will be a while before this treatment is available, if ever, but sometime in the future there will be a higher quantity and quality of cancer treatments available to us.