Scientists at the Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus began their research by injecting bladder, lung and breast cancer cells with a protein called PLEKHA7.
What they discovered, was that the protein stifled the growth of the cancer cells, stopping them from multiplying and then spreading, as the Telegraph reported.
In a research paper published in Nature Cell Biology, the protein has been proven to stop cells from dividing and multiplying – greatly increasing the chances of doctors being able to remove all cancerous cells from patients.
Whilst the researchers don’t claim to have found a cure, they do offer a way to change diagnosis from malignant to benign.
The trial, which has begun its testing phase in-vitro, has yet to be tested on living human patients. However, if the results are proven to be successful, the ability to stop a malignant cancer in its tracks could mean avoiding brutal courses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“Initial experiments in some aggressive types of cancer are indeed very promising,” professor Panos Anastasiadis from Mayo’s Department of Cancer Biology told the Telegraph. “It represents an unexpected new biology that provides the code, the software for turning off cancer.”
The researchers are hesitant to declare success before the study is continued in real-life patients, but the initial findings are an exciting step in a new direction for Cancer research.
“This is an unexpected finding,” Dr. Chris Bakal, of the Institute for Cancer Research in London, told the Telegraph. “We have been trying to work out how normal cells might be suppressing cancer, and stopping dividing when they form contacts with each other, which has been a big mystery. … Normal cells touch each other and form junctions then they shut down proliferation. If there is a way to turn that back on then that would be a way to stop tumors from growing.”