Breakthrough of aggressive cancer cells into healthy cells: ScienceAlert

A particularly aggressive form of childhood cancer that forms in muscle tissue may have a new treatment option on the horizon.

Scientists have succeeded in getting rhabdomyosarcoma cells to transform into normal, healthy muscle cells. It’s an achievement that could lead to the development of new treatments for this cruel disease, and could lead to similar discoveries for other types of human cancers.

Cells literally turn into muscle. says molecular biologist Christopher Vacock of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

“The tumor loses all the attributes of cancer. It goes from a cell that just wants to make more of itself into cells destined for shrinkage. Because all of its energy and resources are now devoted to shrinkage, it cannot go back to that reproduction.” state.”

The differentiated cells display features of normal myocytes, including a newly elongated shape. (Vacuk Lab/Cold Spring Harbor Lab)

Cancer is not a uniform thing. It arises when cells from different parts of the body mutate. Rhabdomyosarcoma It is a type of cancer that appears most often in children and teens. It usually starts in skeletal muscles when cells in them mutate and begin to multiply and take over the body.

Rhabdomyosarcoma is aggressive and often fatal; Survival rates for the intermediate risk group ranged from 50 and 70 percent.

One treatment option that has shown promising results is the so-called Differentiation therapy. It has been shown to scholars I noticed Leukemia cells are not fully mature, like undifferentiated stem cells that have not yet fully developed into a specific type of cell. Differentiation therapy forces those cells to continue their development and differentiate into specific types of mature cells.

In previous work, Vacok and his team effectively reverse mutation of the cancer cells that appear in it Ewing’s sarcomaThis is another childhood cancer that usually appears in the bones.

The researchers wanted to see if they could replicate their success with rhabdomyosarcoma, which was thought to take decades for differentiation therapy.

They used a genetic screening technique to narrow down which genes might force rhabdomyosarcoma genes to continue developing into muscle cells. They found the answer in a protein called nuclear transcription factor Y (NF-Y).

Diagram showing the transformation of rhabdomyosarcoma into muscle cells. (Vacuk Lab/Cold Spring Harbor Lab)

Rhabdomyosarcoma cells produce a protein called PAX3-FOXO1 that stimulates cancer proliferation, on which cancer depends.

The researchers found that inactivating NF-Y disrupts the activity of PAX3-FOXO1, which in turn forces the cells to continue their development and differentiate into mature muscle cells without any sign of cancer activity.

The team says this is an essential step in developing differential therapy for rhabdomyosarcoma, and could speed up the expected timeline for such treatments.

They say their technique, which has now been shown on two different types of sarcomas, could be applicable to sarcomas and other types of cancer, as it gives scientists the tools to find how to make cancer cells differentiate.

Every successful drug has its origin story. Vakok says. “And research like this is the soil from which new medicines are born.”

The research has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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