New technology will turn cancer cells into harmless fat

Scientists from the University of Basel have discovered a new vulnerability of cancer cells, which is dictated by their nature. They managed to redirect the development of mutant cells in a different direction, turning them into ordinary fat cells. At a minimum, this will help stop the spread of metastases and make the cancerous tissue more susceptible to chemotherapy.

In their development, cancer cells undergo the so-called epithelial-mesenchymal transition, which gives them plasticity. This allows the formed cell to break away from the parent area, enter the bloodstream, and travel to a new location. There is a reverse, a mesenchymal-epithelial transition, a metastatic process is initiated, and a new part of the body is "seeding".

Because of this plasticity, cancer cells got a chance to survive during treatment, literally "running away" from the area of ​​drug use. But Swiss scientists have managed to modify two existing drugs so that they act on cancer cells precisely in the intermediate phase. As a result, the mesenchymal-epithelial transition was initiated under new conditions, and not cancer cells, but fat cells grew out of the material.

This method does not allow just to take and "transform" cancerous tissue into adipose tissue. But it brings the fight against cancer to a new front, where cells can be attacked at their most vulnerable state. This will require extensive work, developing a new therapeutic approach in combination with traditional therapies.