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Self-assembling molecules could help in cancer therapy

The term Cancer is very well heard by most of us. But, what is its scientific definition? It is defined as a condition in which the cells in a particular part of the body grow and reproduce uncontrollably. Not only this, it can also take over and destruct surrounding healthy tissues. Cancer often sometimes starts at one part of the body before spreading to other areas and this process is known as metastasis.

The treatment of cancer is a not easy as the remnants of living cancer cells has the potency t evolve into aggressive forms and may therefore become untreatable. This is why, the treatment procedure often involve some drug combinations or radiation therapy so as to prevent cancer relapse. To control and cure the variety of cancer cell types, modern medicines have been developed that would target specific biochemical processes which are unique within each cell.

Cancer cells are highly adaptive and have the potency to develop mechanisms that avoids the effects of the treatment given to the individual. Therefore, the idea is to avoid and forbid such adaptation by invading the main pillar of cellular life which is breathing of the cells. This implies that avoid taking up of oxygen which produce chemical energy for growth.

So, the scientists created a synthetic drug that travels into cells an reacts with the conditions found inside the cell which stimulates a chemical process. This allows the drug's molecules to bind together and form tiny hairs that are a thousand times thinner than human hair. "These hairs are fluorescent, so you can look at them directly with a microscope as they form," says Zhixuan Zhou, an Alexander-von-Humboldt-fellow.

The scientists also evaluated the oxygen consumed in different cell types and saw that the hairs stop all of them from converting oxygen into ATP, which is responsible for energy delivery in cells of the living system. This process also worked even for those cells derived from untreatable metastatic cancer. As a consequence, the cells died rapidly within four hours. The scientists also believe that some more years of research, can lead to development of a new method to treat untreatable cancer. Weil, Ng and colleagues have displayed an exciting outcome under controlled laboratory culture and will continue to unravel deeper insights on the basis of how these tiny hairs prevent the conversion of oxygen to chemical energy.

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