Chris Proud, Professor of Cellular Regulation in Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton says that they have discovered a cellular component, eEF2K, which plays a critical role in allowing cancer cells to survive nutrient starvation, whilst normal, healthy cells do not usually require eEF2K in order to survive. Therefore, they believe that “by blocking the function of eEF2K, one should be able to kill cancer cells, without harming normal, healthy cells in the process.”
The findings were recently published in the journal Cell
Traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy cause damage to healthy cells, he says, and other more targeted treatments are usually only effective for individual types of cancer. Contrastingly, this new development does not damage healthy cells and could also be used to treat a wide variety of different cancers. Professor Proud and the team are now working with other labs, including pharmaceutical companies, to develop and test drugs that block eEF2K, which could potentially be used to treat cancer in the future.
Professor Proud. who is also researching the origins of cancer says that “Protein synthesis is a fundamental process that enables cells to grow, divide and function. If it goes wrong, it can contribute to the development of cancer. He is focusing on understanding the protein synthesis at deeper level and see how defects in this process can cause cancers and other diseases.“