Research funded by AICR has led scientists in Italy to an important discovery which could potentially prevent or reduce the growth of tumours.
Using their £124,875 grant from AICR Dr Stefano Biffo and his team found that, in mice, a molecule (eIF6 ) known to be present at high levels in tumours, could be inactivated or turned off, delaying tumours from developing and reducing the growth of those already present.
Dr Biffo who leads the newly formed Unit of Molecular Histology and Cell Growth, at the Fondazione San Raffaele del Monte Tabor, in Milan, explained that when treated under conditions that would normally lead to lymphomas, the mice were protected if the levels of eIF6 were reduced.
The research published this month in leading journal, Cancer Cell, found the mice also had prolonged tumour-free survival and reduced growth of tumours under these same conditions.
In trying to understand the mechanism behind their discovery, the researchers went further, establishing that by altering a precise part of the eIF6 molecule, known as the PKC beta II phosphosite, to prevent a phosphate molecule from adhering to it, reduced the growth of the tumour.
They have therefore confirmed that the molecule eIF6 is able to control the development (tumourgenesis) and growth of tumours in mice and have shown that inactivating/turning it off could be a potential way to treat tumours in the future.
Dr Mark Matfield, AICR's Scientific Co-ordinator said: “Professor Biffo has discovered a way that cancer cells use the normal growth mechanisms of cells for their own ends. Blocking this part of the cell growth system could form the basis of a new way to treat many different types of cancer."
However he pointed out that more work was needed to confirm a similar effect in humans before clinical trials could begin.