Scientists have discovered a way to make cancerous cells overstress and destroy themselves, according to research published by the Nature Cell Biology journal this week.
Studies have shown that a certain gene, known as MYC, drives tumor growth in multiple cancer types when mutated. Scientists have now identified a new pathway that works as a partner to MYC and may be its Achilles’ Heel.
The discovery involves a protein called ATF4, which, when blocked, causes tumors cells to die from too much stress.
Indicating a possible alternative approach by targeting the ATF4 proteins themselves so that both signal pathways converge, the study said this may lower the chances of cancer to survive.
The team, led by Constantinos Koumenis, said they learned to go further downstream to block tumor growth in a way that cancer cells could not easily escape.
“This shows us the potential impacts of targeting ATF4 in MYC-dependent tumors, something we’re already studying,” said Feven Tameire, the study’s conductor.
Scientists are trying to figure out how ATF4 works in hopes of to conducting future studies.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and was responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018, according to the World Health Organization. It has led to roughly one in six deaths worldwide due to cancer.