To control cancer cells, turn off their growth
Researchers working in small-scale lab tests believe they've figured out how to reprogram cancer cells by turning off their uncontrollable growth.
When healthy cells start to die, molecules called microRNAs deliver a specific protein which prevents the cells from dividing. Cancer cells don't get enough of this protein, so those cells usually multiply at a much quicker rate.
When researchers at the Mayo Clinic injected cancer cells with microRNA, the tumor stopped growing.
They likened the process to applying the brakes in a vehicle. One researcher said with microRNA delivery, "We should be able to re-establish the brakes and restore normal cell function."
They call it "an unexpected finding" and "a significant step" in understanding how cancer works.
But cells on their own in the lab aren't the same as cells in a human patient, and the researchers don't know if the process can be worked into any cancer treatments yet.
They've published their findings in the journal Cell Biology.
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