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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Using cell death to kill cancer

Scientists in Israel have come up with a way to trigger the process of cell death called apoptosis, raising the possibility that the technique might one day be used to treat cancer.

Apoptosis is a process of programmed cell death that takes place in our bodies as a way of stopping abnormal cells. Cancer cells usually bypass this process because of genetic mutations. This means the cancer cells survive, but healthy cells die.
The scientists at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Weizmann Institute of Science looked at the interaction of two proteins involved in cell death and found regions in those proteins that take one of the critical steps to begin the process.
Using this knowledge, the researchers worked in cell cultures and succeeded in triggering the death of human cancer cells.
“We have just begun to uncover the hidden potential in the interaction between these proteins,” said Assaf Friedler, one of the researchers and a professor at Hebrew University’s Institute of Chemistry. ”This is an important potential target for the development of anti-cancer drugs…”
The following video provides a close-up view of apoptosis:
Cell death in beautiful fluorescence