A new way to fight cancer on the horizon?

For many cancer patients the options to the fight disease often comes with rough side effects.  Radiation and chemotherapy can cause weight loss, headaches, loss of energy, digestive problems, hair loss and whole host of other issues.   But researchers at Stanford University may be on to a new kind of  chemotherapy.

“Chemotherapy just wipes me out,” Linda Rolsen said.  The 45 year old teacher has breast cancer and is going through chemotherapy.  “I have good days and bad but the treatment really strips my body to the bone and it’s very hard to handle.”

Right now chemotherapy attacks all dividing cells, whether they are cancerous or not it doesn’t distinguish between them.  Now scientists believe they may be able to create drugs that target a biological phenomenon only found in cancer cells, such as the compound recently discovered by Stanford researchers, which could efficiently fight the disease with minimal side effects.

“This study demonstrates an approach for selectively inhibiting the ability of cancer cells to take up glucose, which is a pretty powerful way of killing those cells,” said senior study author Amato Giaccia, PhD, professor and director of radiation oncology.

The study may provide the road map to a new drug that would starve the cancer cells of the energy they need to thrive.  “The cells that we are targeting are highly dependent on glucose transport for energy production,” said Chan, who is now an assistant professor at UC-San Francisco. “This compound stops the cells from transporting glucose, so it starves them.”

Researchers are in the process of creating and testing a new drug based on these findings.  One drug is already in clinical trials and another is the design phase.

The news will be published this week in Science Translational Medicine.

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