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Scientists created chemicals that can prevent cancer cells growing

It’s not the nicest of thoughts, that cancers can have a sweet tooth, but scientists have recently discovered a link between certain cancers, the way they gorge on sugars and how they multiply, grow and divide. The latest research from the University of Southampton shows that there are certain types of breast cancers that gobble up the sugars in our blood, and this is what allows them to multiply.

But studies have now found a treatment that can exploit this link between the cancer’s appetite, as scientists have created chemicals that can prevent the cancer cells from growing.

High-res camera can detect smallest tumours on a molecular level © Getty Images

High-res camera can detect smallest tumours on a molecular level © Getty Images

The chemicals are called cyclic peptide inhibitors (CP61), and they are specifically designed to stop the cancer cells from processing the sugar in the blood. The CP61 chemical has been created to target these types of breast cancers that have become resistant to chemotherapy treatment, and could become the latest alternative treatment for breast cancer.

It is thought that unfortunately around one in five woman who suffer from breast cancer have types of cancer that become resistant to chemotherapy, and alternative treatments have to be sought.

As Dr. Jeremy Blaydes of the university’s faculty of medicine says, chemotherapy-resistance eventually happens in around 20% of breast cancer cases. Chemotherapy-resistance is when cancers that had previously responded to therapy suddenly begin to grow back again. Dr Blaydes says: “To overcome this resistance, innovative treatments that use new approaches to stop cancer from growing are desperately needed. Because this is an entirely new approach to treatment, the drugs we are developing could be effective against breast cancers that have become resistant to current chemotherapies.”

He adds: “This work is at an early stage in the laboratory, but it is really exciting as it has the potential to deliver a completely new kind of cancer drug, which could be available within 10 years.”

One of the benefits of using the CP61 chemical to target breast cancer cells is that it is far less damaging to the normal healthy cells, as it only blocks the cells responsible for processing the blood sugars. Therefore the treatment should have fewer side effects than the typical chemotherapies associated with cancer treatments.

Dr. Stuart Griffiths, who is the director of research at Breast Cancer Campaign, says that for women whose breast cancer has become resistant to chemotherapy, this treatment could potentially offer a much-needed lifeline. He says: “Every year, thousands of women still die and millions are affected by breast cancer, so we will continue to seek world-class research, bringing the brightest minds together to share knowledge and produce better, quicker results.”

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