UK Cancer Researcher Fights Disease Using Counterintuitive Approach

UK Cancer Researcher Fights Disease Using Counterintuitive Approach
A researcher at Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute developed a counterintuitive approach to fighting cancer that led to the development of Lynparza (olaparib) as a prescribed medication for certain types of BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer. The therapeutic approach is now being considered for other types of cancer that might also derive from BRCA mutations, including prostate and breast cancer. Common sense tells us that when we’re under attack, we should gather our soldiers to defeat the enemy. But if you’re based at the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute in England, this approach might not necessarily be used. The "counterintuitive" approach was first used by Steve Jackson, a professor who has worked at the institute for more than two decades. Jackson worked on the development of a new class of cancer drugs that work from a different approach to cancer: They switch off a mechanism that exists to repair our DNA and prevent it from mutating. Many existing chemotherapy drugs encourage apoptosis – programmed cell death. But not only does this damage healthy cells, which is why chemotherapy patients get so sick, apoptosis is also the process that cancer cells use against healthy cells. The seemingly counterintuitive solution suggests that stopping cell death is the answer to save healthy cells. "If you can somehow inhibit apoptosis, then you can keep the healthy cells alive. And if you keep the healthy cells alive, you stop the cancer cells spreading and the tumor should die away,” Eugenia Piddini, a colleague of Jackson's at the Wellcom
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