A breakthrough treatment provides hope for stopping the spread of lung cancer in the body, and could even work on other cancers. PHOTO: Reuters
A drug shows signs of fighting lung cancer successfully, in what could be a major breakthrough.
“Sure enough, it appears to work beyond our wildest dreams,” said Ken Adler, professor of cell biology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University. Adler developed the surprisingly successful drug while researching other lung conditions similar to asthma. The drug has been shown to stop the progression of lung cancer in mice.
Reen Wu, Adler’s collaborator at UC Davis, tested the drug on human cancer cells. The results were extremely encouraging.
“Wow. We’ve never seen anything like this. It stops them moving completely,” Adler recalls Wu telling him.
The drug does not kill cancer cells directly, rather it works by deactivating certain mechanisms within cells that direct their movement. This seems to prevent the cancer from spreading.
“The thought was ‘Well, if it blocks cells from moving, what about cancer cells which are known to metastasize?’ meaning cells move from the site of the initial tumor to other parts of the body where they seed and start tumors,” said Adler.
The drug has not been tried on human patients yet, but the results from mice are very encouraging, because the cancer that mice develop which the drug fights are very similar to human lung cancer. Adler and Wu are hoping that trials in human patients can happen faster than they normally would, because a similar drug is already being tested to treat lung inflammation.
Adler is dreaming big about the potential impact for his drug:
“My research has always been in lung research … but there is no reason to think that, in the future, it would only be limited to lung cancer,” Adler said. “A lot of the studies we have planned now will involve different types of cancer, including breast cancer, skin cancer, and brain cancer.”
Let’s hope he is successful, and that Adler is moving us closer to a day when cancer is easily defeated with a pill.