Synthetic Ion Transporter to Cause Self Destruction in Cancer Cells

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ride to Cancer

Researchers from three continents and six universities across Texas, UK and South Korea have created a molecule that can cause cancer cells to self–destruct. The success of the research confirms a two–decade old finding of a natural substance called prodigiosin, which acts as a natural ion transporter with an anti–cancer effect.

Cells in the human body maintain a stable concentration of ions inside their cell membranes. Any disbalance in the ion concentration can trigger apoptosis or programmed cell death, a mechanism used by the body to rid it from the damaged or dangerous cells. Therefore, one way of destroying cancer cells would be to trigger apoptosis by skewing the ion balance in cells. However, when a cell becomes cancerous, it changes the way it transports ions across its cell membrane and in a way blocks apoptosis.

Therefore, researchers created a synthetic ion transporter in order to trigger this mechanism. It works by binding to the chloride ions in the cell membrane and creates an organic blanket around the ion that causes it to dissolve. The group was thus, able to show that these molecules promote cell death in cultured human cancer cells. A major hurdle that researchers are likely to face in this novel approach of theirs is that of limiting the synthetic transportation to only cancerous cells.

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