Zoe Cormier in Nature:
Cancer researchers have pinned down a molecule that can kick-start the body’s own tumour-destroying systems, triggering cell death in cancerous but not healthy tissue in mice.
The molecule, TIC10, activates the gene for a protein called TRAIL (tumour-necrosis-factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand), which has long been a target for cancer researchers looking for drugs that would avoid the debilitating effects of conventional therapies.
“TRAIL is a part of our immune system: all of us with functional immune systems use this molecule to keep tumours from forming or spreading, so boosting this will not be as toxic as chemotherapy,” says Wafik El-Deiry, an oncologist at Pennsylvania State University in Hershey and lead author of the study, which is published today in Science Translational Medicine1.
Experiments showed that TIC10 had potent effects against a variety of tumours, including breast, lymphatic, colon and lung cancer. It was especially effective at triggering cell suicide in glioblastoma, a kind of brain tumour that is notoriously difficult to treat2.