Dismantling Cancer Reveals Weak Spots

London, Scientists have taken cancer apart piece-by-piece to reveal its weaknesses, and come up with new ideas for treatment.

A team at the Wellcome Sanger Institute disabled every genetic instruction, one at a time, inside 30 types of cancer.

It has thrown up 600 new cancer vulnerabilities and each could be the target of a drug.

Cancer Research UK praised the sheer scale of the study.

The study heralds the future of personalised cancer medicine. At the moment, drugs like chemotherapy cause damage throughout the body.

Cancer is caused by mutations inside our body’s own cells that change the instructions written into our DNA.

The researchers embarked on a gargantuan feat of disabling each genetic instruction – called a gene – inside cancers, to see which were crucial for survival.

They disrupted nearly 20,000 genes in more than 300 lab-grown tumours made from 30 different types of cancer.

They used a tool called Crispr – the same genetic technology that was used to re-engineer two babies in China last year.

It is a relatively new, easy and cheap tool for manipulating DNA, and this study would have been an impossible feat just a decade ago.

The results, published in the journal Nature, revealed 6,000 crucial genes, which at least one type of cancer needs to survive.

Some were unsuitable for developing cancer drugs, as they are also essential in healthy cells.

Others are already the target of precision drugs like Herceptin in breast cancer – the team called this a “sanity check” that proves their method works.

And yet more are beyond current science to develop suitable drugs, so the researchers narrowed down a shortlist of 600 potential new targets for drugs to attack, the BBC news reported.

Source: Oman News Agency