London: British scientists have found a new way of killing cancer cells, a media report said Friday.
The study not only sheds light on why some people fail to respond to chemotherapy but also reveals a new way of targeting cancer cells, the Daily Express reported.
Until recently, it was thought cells could only die through a process called apoptosis.
Apoptosis is often blocked by cancer cells, and drugs often do not work, which allows the tumour to grow and spread.
The findings from the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) here reveal a new process in which cells can die called necroptosis.
The study published in the online edition of the Molecular Cell journal.
Researchers found that it was possible to activate a set of proteins that push cancer cells into this form of cell death, the Express said.
This raises the hope of new targeted treatments that could also kill tumour cells which have proved resistant to apoptosis.
Study author professor Pascal Meier, from the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre at the ICR, said: "These findings represent a new line of attack in the fight against cancer. Chemotherapy has been around for decades but we have never understood how it kills cancer cells.
"This work shows not only that it can happen by two different processes, but how drugs can be developed to activate this newly discovered second cell-killing process in a much smarter, more effective way.