Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is an aggressive type of cancer that forms in muscle tissue and primarily affects the pediatric population. Like other cancerous tumors, its treatment usually includes chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, a set of procedures that is exhausting and aggressive for children’s health.
However, a new treatment option against rhabdomyosarcoma could soon become a reality now that a team of scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (New York, USA) managed to transform cells from this type of cancer into normal ones for the first time. and healthy muscle.
The best news is that this promising treatment could be replicated and targeted at other types of malignant tumors, the researchers say in an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
New therapy against rhabdomyosarcoma
The new procedure against the development of RMS cells is called differentiation therapy and is possible with CRISPR gene editing technology.
It consists of intervening in the development of RMS cells at a critical stage of their evolution to force them to differentiate into other muscle cells. This procedure is possible by altering a protein known as NF-Y, which promotes the growth of cancer cells.After the therapy, “the cells literally become muscle,” says Christopher Vakoc, molecular biologist and leader of the research team.
«The tumor loses all the attributes of cancer. It changes from a cell that just wants to produce more of itself to cells dedicated to contraction. Because all its energy and resources are now dedicated to contraction, it cannot multiply again,” the biologist explains in a statement.
Applicable to other types of cancer
Previously, Vakoc and his colleagues had already managed to successfully test this new technique with Enwing sarcoma cells, a type of childhood cancer that mainly affects the bones. For this reason, they assure that it may be a promising process that could be replicated with other malignant tumors.
“This technology can allow you to take any cancer and figure out how to differentiate it,” Vakoc says. “This could be a key step in making differentiation therapy more accessible,” he adds. “Every successful medicine has its origin story. And research like this is the terrain from which new drugs are born,” summarizes the researcher.