Most chemotherapy drugs for cancer are effective at killing cancer cells, but have harsh side effects on many other healthy cells as well.
In two separate studies, researchers from Nanyang Technological University worked out new ways to specifically target cancer cells.
One, by Associate Professor Curtis Davey and his colleagues, is a substance that targets the protein part of chromatin - the tightly wound compound of DNA and protein that makes up a cell's nucleus - to stop cancer cells from replicating. Conventional drugs target the DNA part instead and that's what causes them to be toxic to healthy cells.
The other study, by Associate Professor Peter Droge and his team, worked out how cancer cells shield themselves from the onslaught of chemotherapeutic drugs used in the clinic to target DNA and shrink tumours.
The cancer cells use a mechanism borrowed from stem cells to do so. New drug identification could thus look for compounds that get them to lower these safeguards.
The studies were published in the journals Nature Communications and Cell Reports respectively.
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