Scientists from Israel have announced that they may have found the 'Achilles heel' of cancer cells.
The study involved scientists taking 1,000 cancer cell cultures from patients and looked at them in a lab using advanced bioinformatic methods in order to quantify their degree of aneuploidy (abnormal chromosomes), from most aneuploidy to least aneuploidy.
After the cancer cells’ degree of chromosomal instability was ascertained, the scientists then examined and compared their sensitivity to thousands of drugs.
Eventually, they found that aneuploid cancer cells were highly sensitive to one biological process named the 'mitotic checkpoint', which ensures the proper separation of chromosomes during cell division.
Dr. Uri Ben-David of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, one of the scientists involved in the research, told The Media Line that the findings open up an entirely new avenue for medical research.
He explained that aneuploidy is the most common genetic change in cancer, with approximately 90 percent of solid tumours, such as breast cancer and colon cancer, with 75 percent of blood cancers, being aneuploid in nature.
'For decades, we’ve been trying to understand why [aneuploidy] happens in cancer and how it contributes to tumour formation and progression,' he said.
Dr. Ben-David added that scientists have been trying to see if humanity can take advantage of this quite unique difference between cancer cells and normal cells in order to selectively kill the cancer cells.
The study, led by Dr. Yael Cohen-Sharir, of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, was conducted in collaboration with six laboratories in four other countries: The United States of America, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.
The findings of the study have since been published in the scientific journal Nature.