Listen

STOCKHOLM, April 5 (Xinhua) -- Swedish researchers have recently published a new study result of general cancer treatment in the science and medicine journal of Nature, that tumors can be killed by inhibiting a special enzyme called MTH1.

Unlike other cells, cancer cells need the enzyme MTH1 for cell division and when MTH1 is inhibited, building blocks of tumor's DNA are also destroyed, leading to the death of the tumor, said Karolinska Institute in a statement, which together with other four universities in Sweden that carried out the study.

In the past few decades the development of new cancer medicines has been focused on fighting genetic defects of cancer cells, which has been effective but the problem lies in that cancers would develop resistance.

The activity of MTH1 exists in all cancers and is not limited by genetic changes in some specific forms of cancer as the researchers have found all the tumors studied need MTH1 to survive.

The background is that cancer cells have changing metabolism, which destroys some of the DNA building blocks while MTH1 cleans them and prevents them from being taken into the DNA, thus allowing division of cancer cells.

"Normal cells do not need MTH1 because their building blocks of DNA are intact," Thomas Helleday, researcher from Karolinska Institute, was quoted as saying in the statement, adding that the general enzymatic activity in cancer cells has "opened up a new way" for cancer treatment.

According to Helleday, it will probably take a few more years before the study result can be applied for clinical studies, but they have already sent the MTH1-inhibitor to research groups over the world to step up the development.

In the Nature of the same serial number, researchers from the research team of Sweden have published another article with their colleagues from Austria and Britain claiming that the earlier identified substances used to kill cancer cells can also inhibit MTH1, which was not known before.

"There has been skepticism on if academic research can really contribute to medicine development and we have proved that we both will and are able to make contribution," said Helleday.


Listen