Breakthrough in cancer research

Breakthrough in cancer research could see new drug fight multiple cancer types

A breakthrough in cancer research could see one drug used to combat a multitude of different forms of the disease.

Scientists say they have uncovered the structure of an enzyme called telomerase which, when active, makes cancer cells immortal, allowing them to multiply and cause the spread of the disease.

Now the discovery has been made, experts believe they can create a drug to block the enzyme and prevent tumour growth.

US researcher Dr Emmanuel Skordalakes explained: ‘Telomerase is an ideal target for chemotherapy because it is active in almost all human tumours, but inactive in most normal cells.

‘That means that a drug that deactivates telomerase would likely work against all cancers, with few side effects.’

Professor Rob Newbold from Brunel University said it was a ‘very important’ achievement.

Telomerase controls the evolution of cancers – and is a key characteristic of human cancer cells. The idea is that you could convert immortal cancer cells back into mortal ones by blocking telomerase in this way.’

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