Swedish researchers find new tool to fight cancer

Researchers from Sweden have discovered molecules that specifically restrain a selenium-containing enzyme in the human body, which may become an important tool to fight cancer.

Feb 15, 2018 16:00 IST
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According to a new study by Swedish scientists, small molecules that specifically restrain a selenium-containing enzyme in the human body may become an important tool to fight cancer.

The researchers revealed the same after effectively treating over 60 different types of cancer cells under laboratory conditions with these molecules.  The study was published in the US medical journal called ‘Science Translational Medicine’ on February 14, 2018.


The study revealed that researchers at Karolinska Institute in Sweden treated cancer in mice with these molecules and observed rapid tumor-killing effects.

The researchers expressed hope that this new principle could be extended to treat cancer in humans as well.

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Study: Key Details

• Selenium is a chemical element that is an essential micronutrient.

• A selenium-containing enzyme, called TrxR1, can be used to support the growth of various cells and protect them from oxidative stress.

• Oxidative stress is the imbalance between the production of free radicals, which are highly reactive with other molecules, and the body's ability to counteract or repair the resulting damage.

• However, in several forms of cancer, raised levels of TrxR1 could be detected.

• Researchers analysed almost 400,000 different molecules to find new ones that would more specifically control TrxR1 and found three different types that proved to be active as anti-cancer medicines.

Speaking on the occasion, Elias Arner, lead researcher of the study, stated that this effectiveness against cancer may be a result of cancer cells' seemingly greater sensitivity to oxidative stress when compared to normal cells, which in turn can be utilised in cancer therapy.

He added saying that the treatment seems to work in mouse models and therefore they are hopeful that this principle for treatment could be developed for humans as well, even if it will require many years of further research.

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