Irish researchers have come up with a way to kill off cancer cells by starving them to death.
The researchers at Queen's University Belfast expect human trials to begin in 12 months to test their new discovery.
“Essentially it stops the blood vessels from developing,” Prof Tracy Robson said noting they have found a substance that blocks the development of a blood supply to let the tumor grow.
The substance is a natural human protein Robson said and has already proven every effective in lab tests on mice.
The protein does not target the actual tumor cells instead it zeroes in on the blood vessels it tries to grow, said Professor Robson.
Her breakthrough, reported in the Irish Times, is written up in this edition of Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
When the protein and gene were discovered they then established what part of the protein worked to stop blood vessels developing
The university has now joined with Almac Discovery Ltd, a Craigavon, Co Armagh-based company, that develops cancer treatments.
The substance developed by Queen’s and Almac underwent tests with mice and proved “highly effective” for prostate and breast cancers.
“However, this also has the potential for the treatment of any solid tumor,” Prof Robson said.
While existing drugs such as Avastin block a tumour’s blood supply these are based on interfering with growth factors, she said.
“Our drug would be very useful in patients who don’t respond well to Avastin,” she said.