A recently found process to eliminate cancer cells could be more effective than current methods like chemotherapy, scientists have reported. The new technique of killing cancer cells, called Caspase Independent Cell Death (CICD), led to the complete abolition of tumors in experimental models. Most current anticancer therapies (chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy) work by killing cancer cells through a process known as apoptosis, which activates proteins called caspases, resulting in cell death.
Though in apoptosis, therapies mostly fail to terminate all cancer cells, leading to disease recurrence, and can also have undesired side effects that may even endorse cancer.
Scientists from the University of Glasgow wanted to develop a way to enhance therapy that encourages cancer cell killing while also mitigating unwanted toxicity.
“Our research found that triggering Caspase-Independent Cell Death (CICD), but not apoptosis, often led to complete tumor regression.” “Especially under conditions of partial therapeutic response, as our experiments mimic, our data suggest that triggering tumor-specific CICD, rather than apoptosis, may be a more effective way to treat cancer,” Dr. Stephen Tait, stated.
Not like apoptosis, which is a silent form of cell death, when cancer cells die through CICD, they warn the immune system through the release of inflammatory proteins. Then the immune system can attack the tumor cells that are left that evaded initial therapy-induced death.
In a report published in Nature Cell Biology, the researchers used lab-grown colorectal cancer cells to display the pros of killing cancer cells via CICD, despite, these benefits may be applicable to a broad-range of cancer types.
Dr Tait added: “In essence, this mechanism has the potential to dramatically improve the effectiveness of anti-cancer therapy and reduce unwanted toxicity.
“Taking into consideration our findings, we propose that engaging CICD as a means of anti-cancer therapy warrants further investigation.”
Dr Justine Alford, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information officer, stated: “Although many cancer treatments work by triggering apoptosis, that method sometimes fails to finish the job and instead may lead to a tumour becoming harder to treat.
“This new research suggests there could be a better way to kill cancer cells which, as an added bonus, also activates the immune system. Now scientists need to investigate this idea further and, if further studies confirm it is effective, develop ways to trigger this particular route of cell death in humans.”