An interesting strategy in cancer therapy has been tested by a team of researchers from the Georgia Cancer Center in Augusta and the Department of Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.
The researchers examined if increasing ROS (reactive oxygen species) production can kill cancer cells. It’s about ‘’force feeding’’ the cancer to the point of death.
ROS are substances that are produced naturally after the oxygen metabolism process. They play an important part in the regulation of biological functioning and cell signaling.
A type of immunotherapy known as adoptive T cell therapy can lead to an increase of ROS in cancer tumors. Once the cells are overloaded they begin to self-destruct.
This therapy targets and destroys cancer tumors.
When ROS reach abnormal levels, it leads to oxidative stress – an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to detoxify or counteract their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants.
This causes severe cellular aging and deterioration. Cancer cells need higher levels of ROS that can help them grow and spread quickly.
For the study, researchers worked with a mouse model of colorectal cancer. They gave the mice immunotherapy and noticed that glutathione production was disrupted.
ROS levels became overloaded and reached extremely high levels in cancer cells.
“We started by asking questions about how immunotherapy can change the metabolism of tumor cells,” researcher Dr. Gang Zhou stated.
“Our studies show,” the researcher adds, “tumor necrosis factor alpha can act directly on tumor cells and induce ROS inside them.”
The researchers noted that more research is needed to increase their knowledge regarding T cells. If the immunotherapy can be enhanced, it is hoped that it can completely destroy cancer in the future.
The research was published in the Cell Metabolism journal.