Imagine if you could turn aggressive cancer cells into harmless fat.
Scientists in Switzerland say they’ve done just that, in a new study in mice. By taking advantage of the “plasticity,” or adaptability, of certain cancer cells during metastasis, the researchers were able to coax breast cancer cells in mice into becoming fat cells.
The scientists accomplished this using a combination of two drugs, both of which are already approved for use in humans by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The treatment didn’t convert all of the cancer cells into fat cells, but it did stop the cancer’s metastasis, or spread to other parts of the body, the researchers said.
The work is very preliminary, and it’s unclear if the findings will apply to people or to other types of cancers. But because the study used two drugs already approved by the FDA, it “may be possible” that the findings also apply to humans, the researchers wrote in their paper, published [January 14] in the journal Cancer Cell.
If future studies confirm the new work, the researchers believe that the therapy could be used in combination with conventional chemotherapy “to suppress both primary tumor growth and the formation of deadly metastases,” senior study author Gerhard Christofori.
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