Scientists trigger self-destruct switch in lung cancer cells

Cancer Research UK scientists have found a drug combination that can trigger the self-destruct process in lung cancer cells, paving the way for new treatments, according to research that will be presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference (link is external) in Liverpool next week.
When healthy cells are no longer useful they initiate a chain of events culminating in self destruction. But cancer cells swerve away from this suicide path and become immortal. This means that cells grow out of control, causing tumours to form.
The Cancer Research UK team, based at the UCL Cancer Institute (link is external), has successfully fixed this fault in lung cancer cells, reprogramming the cells to self-destruct. Using lung cancer cells and mice the scientists showed that the combination of two drugs, called TRAIL and a CDK9 inhibitor, altered the molecular switches in the cell suicide process, forcing the cancer cells to self-destruct.
Lead researcher, Cancer Research UK scientist Professor Henning Walczak from the UCL Cancer Institute, said: “Igniting the fuse that causes lung cancer cells to self destruct could pave the way to a completely new treatment approach, and leave healthy cells unharmed.