These days, cancer researchers aim to design targeted and specific therapy – those that kill cancer but spare the surrounding tissue. Immunotoxins, which use cancer-targeted antibodies linked to deadly toxins such as ricin, are one such therapy. However, few have succeeded to date in part because cancer cells share many molecules with normal cells, and because it can be challenging to unlock the deadly chemical only after the antibody has homed to the diseased tissue.
Now researchers at Thomas Jefferson University have discovered the unique biological properties inherent to colon cancer that make it a perfect candidate for immunotoxins – an antibody that won’t attach to normal cells and a toxin-delivery system that takes advantage of a fluke of biology: Colon cancer cells will gobble up poison if it’s attached to a key receptor on the cell’s surface.
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