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Cancer tumors fight themselves.

Cancer cells can be manipulated to produce poisons that kill tumors.

Cancer tumors fight themselves.

A future treatment for cancer could be tailoring cancer cells that produce toxins to destroy tumors, reported researchers at Lund University this March after achieving consistent results in tests on both cells and animals.

“We have previously discovered that a carbohydrate, xylose, linked to a naphthalene preferentially inhibits growth of tumor cells but not normal cells,” said Katrin Mani, whose work was presented in the scientific journal, Cancer Research.

Cells grown together with compounds that contain xylose produce different types of long carbohydrate chains called glycosaminoglycans which are transported out of the cell. Since scientists became aware of this some 10 years ago, they have tried to understand why the xylose compound works so well against tumor cells. Two groups, led by Mani and Ulf Ellervik, utilized natural biological processes, tests showed up to 97% reduction in tumor growth in animals. However, the scientists say that it will be many years before an anticancer drug that can be used on humans.

“Glycosaminoglycans from normal cells are completely inactive. However, glycosaminoglycans from cancer cells are very active. They are quickly taken up by both normal and cancer cells and transported to the cell nuclei where they affect gene transcription and induce an anti proliferative effect, accompanied by cell death. The specific carbohydrate chains from tumor cells are in practice toxins," explained Mani.

“Around the tumor, where there are lots of cancer cells, a high concentration of the toxin is built up. This means that the tumor produces a toxin that kills itself. When the tumor is gone, no more toxin will be produced”, added Ellervik.


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