Scientists have discovered that Caspase Independent Cell Death (CICD) led to complete killing of the cancer cells or tumours in the experimental models, and decreased the risk of both side effects and recurrence. CICD has proved useful in completely removing the tumours to kill all the cancer cells.

Existing treatments including Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy, and Radiation all have their own side effects and fail to kill all the cancer cells resulting in recurrence of the disease. All these treatments use the process of activating proteins called caspases to kill the cells. This is also known as apoptosis. In apoptosis however, some cancer cells often survive and the treatment can bring about unwanted side effects. According to Dr. Stephen Tait, the researcher who led the University of Glasgow team in the research on CICD technique, the new method results often in complete tumour regression and maybe a more effective way of treating cancer than apoptosis especially under conditions of partial therapeutic response.

Worldwide Cancer Incidence

Cancer is one of the major reasons for death around the world. Worldwide, there were 14 million new cases of cancer and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths in 2012. It is forecasted that within the next 20 years, the total number of cancer cases worldwide will increase to 22 million.. Science is eager to understand cancer in a better way so that it can be prevented, treated and cured in future. Current treatment methods are only partially effective and some of them also make healthy cells weak thereby affecting the rest of the body.

On the other hand, when cancer cells are destroyed by the CICD technique, the cells release inflammatory proteins which induce the immune system to increase the body’s natural defences which then continue to attack the remaining tumour cells that were missed during the first round of treatment. The scientists used lab-grown Colorectal Cancer cells to show the advantage of killing cancer cells via CICD, however, these benefits may be applicable to different types of cancers as well.

Dr Tait mentioned that this new mechanism has the potential to significantly improve the effectiveness of anti-cancer therapy and reduce the unwanted toxicity. Based on the findings of the study, he proposed engaging CICD as a means of anti-cancer therapy for future treatments. Dr Justine Alford from Cancer Research UK said that although many cancer treatments worked by triggering apoptosis, that method sometimes failed to complete the job and instead resulted in making the tumour harder to treat.

Promising Results

Initial results have been very promising. This new research suggests that there could be a better way to kill cancer cells which also activates the immune system. Scientists need to investigate this idea further and experiment with wider range of cancer cells to be able to treat cancer in future. If further studies confirm it is effective, then develop ways to trigger this particular route of cell death in humans. University of Glasgow scientists plan to investigate the technique further.

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Sources: BBC News and Futurism