Israeli researchers develop new method to make cancer cells 'commit suicide'
Israeli researchers have developed a method that makes cancer cells produce toxins and thus "commit suicide," Tel Aviv University (TAU) in central Israel said in a statement on Sunday.
In a study published in the journal Theranostics, TAU researchers "for the first time in the world" encoded a toxin produced by bacteria into messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules and delivered these particles directly to cancer cells, the statement said.
As a result, the cancer cells produced the same toxin as if they were the bacteria themselves, and eventually, the self-produced toxin kills the cancer cells with a success rate of up to 60 percent.
The idea was to deliver safe mRNA molecules encoded for a bacterial toxin directly to the cancer cells, unlike chemotherapy treatments, which are not selective and also kill healthy cells.
In experiments, the team first encoded the genetic information of the toxic protein produced by pseudomonas bacteria into mRNA molecules.
These molecules were then packaged in lipid nanoparticles and coated with antibodies to ensure the "recipe" instructions for producing the toxin would reach the cancer cells.
The particles were injected into the tumors of mice with melanoma skin cancer, and after one injection, 44 to 60 percent of the cancer cells disappeared.
The researchers noted that the new method may be used with many anaerobic bacteria that secrete toxins, especially those that live in the ground, and may treat many types of cancer.
Moreover, cancer cells can't develop resistance to the method as often happens with chemotherapy because it is always possible to use a different natural toxin, they concluded.