Treating cancer is in part so difficult because to be effective, high doses of aggressive drugs must be administered to patients. These treatments often have negative side effects on healthy cells and can also lead to progressive resistance to treatment drugs. That’s why new research published in the journal Cancers showcasing a combination of four anti-cancer components that could be capable of attacking cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells alone is so exciting. The research comes from scientists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland who analyzed 10 substances in 200 different combinations to find the lucky one that they’re calling C2.
C2 consists of four products (tubacin, CI-994, erlotinib and dasatinib) and works by targeting the supernumerary centrosomes that are only found in tumor cells (watch the video above to learn more). By doing so, C2 can provoke cell deaths specific to only tumor cells. "During our in vitro tests, we found that C2 killed up to 20 times more cancer cells than other combinations, while sparing healthy cells," explains Patrick Meraldi, who is a professor in the Department of Cellular Physiology and Metabolism in UNIGE's Faculty of Medicine as well as at the university's Translational Research Centre in Onco-Haematology (CRTOH).
To figure this out, the researchers used a simultaneous validation technique that they developed. "We used a method we developed in our laboratory to test these different combinations simultaneously in vitro on a cancer cell and on a healthy cell. The aim was to directly compare the effects of the treatment on the two types of cells," elaborates Patrycja Nowak-Sliwinska, a professor in the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Western Switzerland and at UNIGE and CRTOH. "We were able to eliminate the formulas that didn't destroy the diseased cells together with those that also had an impact on the healthy cells.
This research holds great potential for the future of anti-cancer treatments, particularly when it comes to lowering doses. “The main objective is to reduce the doses of the drugs so we can avoid resistance," explains Nowak-Sliwinska. "That's why we're creating new formulas made up of several low-dose treatments that will help us achieve our goal without inducing any resistance."
The researchers plan to continue their investigations, moving from in vivo testing on mice to monitoring the effects of C2 on the entire body.