Science and Technology

Identified weakness which makes cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy

Absence or presence of a single protein can render cancer cells more or less susceptible to drug

Researchers at the University of Liege Sart-Tilman, Belgium, discovered a new weakness in cancer cells that may make them more susceptible to chemotherapy and other treatments.

Scientists have shown that HDAC5 protein is essential for the maintenance of structures, called telomeres within cancer cells that promote the longevity of cancer cells. Cancer cells with longer telomeres tend to be more resistant to therapy, while cancer cells with shorter telomeres tend to be more susceptible.

By targeting the mechanism used by cancer cells to maintain telomeres, the HDAC5, existing therapies could become much more effective in eradicating cancer than they are today.

"Our study can contribute to the development of new anticancer therapies combined. By maintaining a length of telomeres through inhibition of HDAC5, cancer cells are more sensitive to chemotherapeutic drugs," said Denis Mottet.

Mottet and colleagues analyzed several tumor cell lines with different formations on the biology of telomeres and found that HDAC5 co-located with telomeres only in cancer cells with very long telomeres.

The researchers then eliminated HDAC5 in cancer cells with telomere length varied and observed a phenotype (telomere shortening) exclusively in cancer cells that originally had longer telomeres.

According to the team, cells with shorter telomeres do not appear to be affected by the absence of the protein HDAC5. They also found that some cancer cells with very long telomeres were resistant to death induced by chemotherapy drugs common but the reduction of protein levels in these cells HDAC5 telomere shortening and subsequent cells sensitized to these agents, which leads to cell death massive.