A team of researchers at Northwestern University have discovered a kill code embedded in every cell in the body that’s designed to combat cancer.
According to the team, the mechanism, which is embedded in large protein-coding ribonucleic acids (RNAs) and small RNAs is designed to attack cells that have mutated and become cancerous.
Chemotherapy triggers the small RNAs. But the scientists believe that if they can synthetically duplicate the toxic RNAs, they will develop a treatment that cancer cannot withstand. They also believe that using this method will allow patients to bypass chemotherapy, which can have devastating side effects.
“Now that we know the kill code, we can trigger the mechanism without having to use chemotherapy and without messing with the genome,” Marcus Peter, lead author of the study, said. “We found weapons that are downstream of chemotherapy.”
Peter has also published work showing that introducing small RNA molecules can kill multiple genes cancer cells need to survive, and that the cancer cells are unable to become resistant to the RNA. He also said that his research has indicated that artificial small RNAs seem to be better at killing cancer cells that naturally occurring ones.
Read the full Northwestern report.