Targeting Health Cells Could Provide Help for Cancer Patients

Promising research suggests a new method for attacking cancer cells, which scientists hope can ultimately lead to even more breakthroughs to prevent the spread of the disease.

Researchers recently found that blocking the enzyme NOX4 can slow or halt the progress of cancer. Though many more studies are needed on the subject — pointing to the overall need for financial help for cancer patients and the research community — the recent report identifies a potential way forward.

What does the science say?

Scientists at University of Southampton focused their study on fibroblasts, which help hold together organs. However, when a person develops cancer, fibroblasts transform into cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), which have been known to speed up the spread of tumor growth. NOX4 is vital to the development of CAFs — meaning that if that enzyme could be stopped, the cancer itself may be as well.

What happens next?

 There are several potential impacts of the study, among them the development of new drug therapies. If a pharmaceutical regimen can be developed that specifically attacks NOX4, that could be a lifesaving intervention for cancer patients, researchers say.

Cancer Research UK is also using the results of the study to examine current chemotherapy and immunotherapy practices. Researchers will explore if there are ways to enhance modern techniques to specifically target NOX4, ultimately making them more effective.

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