Tech & Science

Researchers finds molecule that could zap pancreatic cancer cells

A study at Tel Aviv University discovered a molecule that can cause cancer cells to die after 14 days of treatment.

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Medical advances in the diagnosis and potential cures for various cancers have been occurring at a remarkable rate. There are new blood tests, sniff tests and other diagnostic tools including an app that can help diagnose pancreatic cancer to detect cancer early and increase survivability.

That's really important for pancreatic cancer that has one of the worst prognosis for surviving five years after diagnosis. That's why this new research conducted by Tel Aviv University, Israel on human pancreatic tumors (in mice) is so vitally important.

The study was conducted by Professor Malka Cohen-Armon and her team at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, with Dr. Talia Golan and a team at the Cancer Research Center at Sheba Medical Center, according to a news release from Tel Aviv University American Friends, found that a small molecule has the remarkable ability to cause the self-destruction of pancreatic cancer cells.

The research was conducted by transplanting human pancreatic tumors into immunocompromised mice. “In research published in 2017, we discovered a mechanism that causes the self-destruction of human[breast] cancer cells during their duplication without affecting normal cells,” Cohen-Armon said in the university news release. “We have now harnessed this information to efficiently eradicate human pancreatic cancer cells in xenografts. The current results were obtained using a small molecule that evokes this self-destruction mechanism in a variety of human cancer cells.

“The mice were treated with a molecule called PJ34, which is permeable in the cell membrane but affects human cancer cells exclusively. This molecule causes an anomaly during the duplication of human cancer cells, provoking their rapid cell death. Thus, cell multiplication itself resulted in cell death in the treated cancer cells,” she said.

The study that was published in a peer-reviewed open access medical journal Oncotarget on October 22, 2019 showed that the new treatment with the PJ34 molecule reduced the cancer cells by a whopping 90 percent in the tumors that received injections of the molecule for 14 days just a month after they developed. According to the study, one mouse's tumor disappeared completely on day 56.

The other good news is that the PJ34 did not have any effect on healthy cells leading the researchers to conclude that there was, "No abnormalities, toxic signs, or animal death were observed during the study. On the contrary, all mice gained weight during the study, with no difference between control and the two PJ34 treated groups."

This new procedure is a long way from being tested on people. PJ34 is being tested in pre-clinical trials according to FDA regulations before clinical trials on larger animals and then humans begin, Tel Aviv University said in the news release.

Any new treatments for this cancer dubbed the silent killer will have turn a dire prognosis into a fightable disease with a longer survivability and hopefully a cure.

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