European researchers have made a breakthrough paving the way for the development of precision treatments that can destroy cancers at source.
Until now the similarity between cancer cells and healthy cells has made destroying one, while protecting the other, tough. But a new method developed by teams from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) overcomes the challenge by allowing scientists to make the distinction based on the cells genetics and gene expression. Called MutaSeq, the game changing method relies on single cell sequencing: where scientists gather detailed information from thousands of individual cells.
“MutaSeq works like a PCR test for coronavirus, but at a much more complex level and with a single cell as starting material,” explains Lars Velten, Group Leader at the CRG and author of the paper. “Our vision is to identify cancer stem cell specific drug targets in a personalised manner, making it ultimately as easy for patients and doctors to look for these treatments as it is testing for coronavirus.”
The discovery, published recently in the journal Nature Communications, opens the door for a new era of personalised medicines that can eradicate cancer. And follows major milestones in the fight against the disease in 2020, including progress on a potentially cancer-killing therapy labelled the ‘most promising to date‘; and the creation of a noninvasive test that can detect prostate cancer, currently the second most common life-ending cancer in the USA, according to the American Cancer Society.