The word ‘cancer’ is a loaded one.
A diagnosis, a diagnosis that can make or break a person’s life, can bring with it some stigma and discrimination.
A tumour, a tumour that looks different to a normal, healthy tumour.
It can mean a lifetime of pain and uncertainty.
And it can be the life or death diagnosis that sets people apart.
And yet there is an alternative to the conventional view of cancer.
In a new article published in the journal Nature, scientists say they have identified an immune-boosting molecule that can reverse the spread of certain cancers.
It could also help prevent a new kind of disease, called HER2 positive breast cancer.
It is the first time researchers have been able to show that a specific molecule, called ARA-1, can prevent a tumours growth and even reverse it.
In other words, it could prevent HER2 negative breast cancer from spreading.
“There are a number of compounds in our body that are involved in a variety of biological processes, and there’s a lot of information about what these molecules do,” said lead author Dr John Ainsworth from the University of Melbourne.
“And when we have a cancer that’s in the body, and it’s spreading, we have lots of information on what’s happening and we can predict how it will grow.”
A recent study found a molecule that could prevent breast cancer spread from patients with HER2-positive breast cancer The research is the latest in a string of studies that has led to a breakthrough in the fight against breast cancer, which has now been linked to a range of immune-suppressing and immune-modulating compounds.
Dr Ainswood said the compound, called rASP-1 or rASp1, could also be used to treat other tumours, including HER2.
“We are now looking at the molecular mechanisms that are going on to understand exactly what it is that makes a cell like this grow,” he said.
“What’s causing the growth?”
“It could be a protein that’s called a transcription factor or something else that’s involved in regulating how cells form their cells, and the proteins that make up those cells.”
The research has been funded by the Australian Research Council, the Medical Research Council and the National Cancer Institute.
What does it do?
“We found that rASPs have a role in a number different cell types, particularly in the brain,” Dr Aensworth said.
One example is a protein called the BRAF (blastoma-endothelial- progenitor cell), which is essential for the body’s immune response.
“They can be turned on or off by certain immune proteins,” he explained.
Another is the protein called RAP1, which regulates the formation of blood clots, which can cause cancer.
Dr John Clements from the Cancer Council Queensland said there was a growing body of research showing that the immune system was involved in how the body regulates the immune response to tumours.
“The immune system, and in particular the B cells in the immune cells, can also regulate the growth of the cancer cells,” he told ABC News.
“So if you have a tumor that has invaded the brain, and you have an infection that causes a blood clot, and then you have inflammation that leads to a tumorous growing on top of that blood clot in the lungs, the B cell-type immune system is going to try to kill that tumour.”
The researchers believe that rAP1 plays a role because the cells that make it are also involved in the formation and function of certain molecules in the blood, which regulate the spread and spread of cancerous cells.
It also could help with other cancers, such as HER2, a rare but dangerous form of cancer that can occur in people who do not have the hormone.
Dr Clements said the discovery was exciting, but it needed to be replicated in larger human trials to be sure.
“This is the best result that we’ve seen yet, and that’s really encouraging,” he noted.
“But we know that if we can identify this molecule and show that it has a similar effect in other types of cancers, we could then potentially take this further.”
What do other researchers say?
“There’s a range that are working on it, but we’re at a very early stage,” Dr Cores said.
It would be good if other scientists could take advantage of this discovery and develop better drugs to stop tumours growing.
“If we could identify the molecule, and if we could prove that it was safe, then it would be exciting and potentially potentially very useful,” Dr Moulden said.
The next step is to figure out if there are other molecules that could work in the same way, or if there is a way to use them together.
Dr Molden said the findings could be relevant for the future of cancer treatment, but the study