Naturally occurring molecule and immune system component can target cancer cells: Study

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In a major breakthrough in the field of cancer treatment, researchers have identified a naturally occurring molecule and a component of the immune system to target and kill cancer cells and also encourage immunity against cancer resurgence.

Researchers from King's College London have found out that a naturally occurring molecule produced by immune cells called beta-galactoside-binding protein can non-specifically make the cancer cells undergo "suicide".

According to the research, the protein through a stress response pathway can make the cancer cells visible to the immune system to prompt an anti-cancer immune response.

The study published in the British Journal of Cancer suggested that the anti-tumour property of the molecule was selective and not harmful to normal cells, as well as effective against the most aggressive colorectal cancer cells.

"The study presents experimental evidence for a strategy where the targeting of cancer cells and the stimulation of immunity combine to prompt immediate and long-term responses against aggressive cancer," lead author Professor Livio Mallucci said.

The researcher said only a subset of patients responds to anti-cancer therapy treatments and there was a need for further development in the field.

The study findings said that there was a need to induce the immune system to ensure long-term protection against the recurrence of cancer and current approaches to achieve this involved killing cells by using chemotherapeutics and other harmful agents with uncertain outcomes.

"Translation of GBP to the clinic could open a new therapeutic opportunity which safely combines direct killing of cancer cells and the stimulation of the immune system against recurrences," Malluci added.