News Release 

Innovative technique developed to destroy cancerous kidney cells

University of Surrey

Research News

An innovative new technique that encourages cancer cells in the kidneys to self-destruct could revolutionise the treatment of the disease, a new study in the journal Pharmaceutics reports.

During this unique study, researchers from the University of Surrey and Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University in Russia investigated whether certain naturally occurring proteins within the body can be used to treat cancer.

Focusing on cathepsin S, a member of the lysosomal cathepsin proteins that are known to affect cancer progression, and p21 BAX, a protein that can stimulate cell destruction, researchers found that both can be deployed simultaneously to fight cancer cells in a two-pronged 'attack.' They act firstly by stopping the mechanism that makes certain treatments of the disease ineffective, and secondly by effectively encouraging cancerous cells to self-destruct.

This revolutionary approach targets two converging regulatory pathways that can sometimes be resistant to chemotherapy and has led to the development of a potential ground-breaking therapy using a novel peptide, CS-PEP1. Researchers found that this peptide inhibits both cathepsin S and its ability to break down the p21 BAX protein, resulting in the accumulation of p21 BAX, which encourages the death of cancer cells in the kidneys. The twin-track effect of this peptide can also override the molecular resistance often found during conventional chemotherapy treatment and offers a novel and effective approach in treating cancer.

An increased focus on therapeutic cancer treatments has signalled a move away from traditional methods such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as therapeutic treatments have been found to cause less harm to normal cells and fewer side effects for patients.

Professor Paul Townsend, Principal Investigator, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Surrey, said: "Kidney cancer is a very difficult type of cancer to cure; there is an increased need to think innovatively to develop new techniques. We have now discovered that proteins already in the body can be manipulated to encourage cancerous cells to die. This is an extraordinary breakthrough and insight, and can be used to potentially inform the treatment of other types of aggressive cancers, such as cancers of the breast and prostate."

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