Researchers at Cornell have discovered a protein that kills metastatic cancer cells on contact. The protein, called TRAIL (Tumor Necrosis Factor Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand), was tested on both human and mouse cancer cells and was show effective in both cases.
Researchers exposed the cancer cells to the TRAIL protein with the help of an adhesive protein called E-selectin. They found that when the TRAIL protein contacts a cancer cell, the cancer essentially kills itself.
"These circulating cancer cells are doomed. About 90 percent of cancer deaths are related to metastases, but now we've found a way to dispatch an army of killer white blood cells that cause apoptosis - the cancer cell's own death - obliterating them from the bloodstream. When surrounded by these guys, it becomes nearly impossible for the cancer cell to escape," the researchers said. "The mechanism is surprising and unexpected in that this repurposing of white blood cells in flowing blood is more effective than directly targeting the cancer cells with liposomes or soluble protein."
by RTT Staff Writer
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