A team of scientists at Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine located in Helmholtz Association Germany have developed a new strategy to tackle cancer cells that evade standard chemotherapy regimen. This new approach has been tested on lung cancer in which cells are resistant to chemotherapy and exposure to it alters the cells drastically in such a way that they are tough to treat. The research group is lead by Dr. Gaetano Gargiulo which shows a potential way around this issue and tackling the potent cancer cells. According to WHO figures in 2018 around 2.09 people around the world were suffering from lung cancer and of them around 1.76 million would die within this year.
Different types of lung cancer cause the maximum number of cancer-related deaths worldwide and the most common of them is the non-small cell lung cancer that has several subtypes within this category. Often chemotherapies are used for treatment which stops cells from dividing but they in turn also harm healthy cells and often have side effects. Cancer cells of aggressive tumors often survive chemo treatment and mutate profoundly during this process that makes it difficult for doctors to identify the type of cancer cells they are fighting.
Dr. Gargiulo stated that due to this it becomes tough for doctors to decide the best treatment on remaining cancer cells. The research team investigated this issue on one type of non-small cell lung cancer that produces large amounts of enzymes that accelerates cancer. They used mice in their experiment and injected them with cells from this cancer subtype. This enzyme called Enhancer of Zeste 2 or EZH2 blocks tumor suppressor genes that prevent uncontrolled cell division. When drugs were given to the mice it stopped tumor cells from multiplying but then there was an inflammation in their bodies that helped the tumors resume growth. This discovery was used as a strategy to stay ahead of cancer by encouraging cells to induce inflammation and then ambush them.