JASON PHAM

Scientists in Sweden have discovered a new compound that literally blows up brain cancer cells – glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). After thousands of screenings with different types of molecules, a study was published on March 20, 2014. The method still requires further testing before it is ready to be tried on humans, but should it succeed, it could change the way we treat cancer.

Through the thousands of screenings, the compound that caught researcher’s attention was Vacquinol-1. Although it did in fact kill the cancer cells, it did so in a way that it was unlike anything they had ever seen.

Vacquinol-1 molecules are responsible for the process of “vacuolization”. The molecule shuts off the cell’s ability to control what goes in and out its cell membrane. The tumor goes into overdrive, causing an accumulation in vacuoles. Due to the high accumulation, the outer wall of the cell collapses, essentially exploding and killing the cell. Remarkably, the non-cancerous cells remain intact, meaning that the treatment is GBM specific.

The tests were conducted in petri dishes, but may work on living organisms. The researchers decided to set up a second test involving mice. The mice with the transplanted human GBM ingested Vacquinol-1 for five days. Results posted on The Independent stated that six out of eight mice were still alive after 80 days compared to the non-treated mice in the control group which lived for 30 days.

Five percent of patients diagnosed with GBM survive no longer than three years. In the study, researchers stated that “GBM is essentially incurable”. As it is currently being tested on mice with the common type of GBM, researchers say that it might have potential to cure other types of cancers.

 

Sources:

Alford, Justine. “New Cancer Treatment Causes Cells To Explode.” IFL Science 24 March 2014, n.

pag. Web. 18 May. 2014. <http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/new-cancer-treatment-causes-cells-explode>.

Cooper, Charlie. “‘Exploding’ cancer cells: Scientists discover new way to combat the

disease.” Independent 20 March 2014, n. pag. Web. 18 May. 2014. <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/exploding-cancer-cells-scientists-discover-new-way-to-combat-the-disease-9206264.html>.

Duhaime-Ross, Arielle. “New drug makes brain cancer cells explode.” Verge 20 March 2014, n.

pag. Print. <http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/20/5529084/new-drug-blows-up-brain-cancer-cells>.