Researchers Find a New Achilles Heel for Blood Cancers

The new study shows that targeting nearby "stoma" cells might improve survival rates.
Derya Ozdemir

A group of researchers has found a new kind of treatment that will potentially improve survival rates. If further experiments are conducted, and this practice is applied to modern chemotherapy, cancer will stay gone after it’s beaten.

Scientists are searching for new ways to treat cancer, although small, a new progress is being made every day. However, in terms of treating immune system cancers, lymphoma or leukemia, there are limited options.

These types of cancers are so widespread that surgery isn’t an option. Patients usually get their treatment with chemotherapy.

However, over time even chemotherapy becomes useless since the tumors become resistant after a few rounds of treatment


According to the researchers, they’ve found a new Achilles heel for blood cancers. Apparently, treating the healthy cells near the cancer cells with a type of drug known as small molecule inhibitors improved the effect of chemotherapies. 

Researchers found that chemotherapy resistance could be eliminated by isolating cancer cells from the neighboring "stoma", which are normal cells that support tumor growth and survival.

In previous studies, they’d found that lymphoma and leukemia cells produce a protein called kinase C (PKC)-beta, which is the source of resistance against chemotherapy. This knowledge gives researchers the power to interfere with the protein and cut the lifeline for cancer cells.

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Since drugs for blocking the function of the PKC protein have already been developed, the team targetted the cancer cells with chemotherapy and stroma cells simultaneously. Apparently, this made cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy.

In fact, one test showed this combination therapy extending the length of survival over 90%, which is much longer than using chemotherapy alone. This means that cancer cells that would normally have resisted and survived chemotherapy could now be eliminated from the body.

This research has the potential to benefit thousands of people who are diagnosed with cancer. If these results can be replicated in the future, the combination therapy could become the next big thing for blood cancer therapy.

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