How a Genetic Disease Is Unlocking Clues to New Cancer Therapies

 

Cancer is the leading cause of morbidity across the world, responsible for somewhere around one in six deaths. Nearly 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States alone.

For decades, researchers have been chasing the elusive “cure for cancer.” New technologies have advanced the fight against cancer substantially in the past ten years alone, and researchers have just announced startling findings of a new study on Huntington’s Disease, a fatal genetic affliction.

 

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Huntington’s Disease and Cancer

Huntington’s Disease causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain, deteriorating a person’s physical and mental abilities over time. In America, over 30,000 people live with Huntington’s Disease and another 20,000 are at-risk of inheriting the gene.

Though the disease itself is relentless, those suffering from Huntington’s have up to 80% fewer cancers than the general population. Scientists have just begun to dig into the way the genetic defect may also be stopping cancer from taking root inside the body.

 

RNAs as “Super Assassins”

Huntington’s is caused by an overabundance of a particular sequence of RNA in the “huntington” gene, which is present in every human cell. Scientists hypothesized that these faulty RNA could potentially kill cancer cells much in the same way it kills nerve cells in the brain; early study results show they may be right.

In the study, scientists used nanoparticles to deliver these so-called “super assassin” molecules to mice afflicted with human ovarian cancer. In addition, the same technique was also tested on breast, prostate, liver, brain, lung, skin, and colon cancers. The treatment was shown to significantly reduce the growth of the tumors in mice, doing so without any residual toxicity to the test subject.

 

The Next Step

The next phase in truly developing a Huntington’s-based “kill switch” for cancer will be refining the delivery process to better target tumors with the RNA-repeating molecules. The shorter-term the treatment, the less likely patients would develop symptoms consistent with Huntington’s disease itself. It will also be useful to determine whether test subjects eventually develop a resistance to this form of treatment.

Genetics, a fast-moving and relatively new branch of science, is paving the way for genetically-based cancer treatments. The field of genetics and related areas of study like proteomics and metabolomics which are made possible through advanced technologies such as IMCStips, a powerful, patented solid phase extraction technology that produces consistent, repeatable results for researchers.

IMCStips enable rapid purification of biomolecules from complex samples, a critical component of advanced proteomics research. Applications range from antibody enrichment to recombinant protein purification, and the platform is fully integrated with Hamilton Robotics for high-throughput and consistent performance.

 

For more information on IMCStips or other IMCS products, reach out to the team today.