London: Scientists believe that cancer could be cured by starving tumours to death.
The key may be a newly identified protein, eEF2K, which helps cancer cells to thrive but can be shut off without causing ill effects.
A team of researchers at the University of Southampton is now experimenting with various drugs to block the work of this protein.
Professor Chris Proud, from the university, said that cancer cells grow and divide much more rapidly than normal cells, meaning they have a much higher demand for and are often starved of, nutrients and oxygen.
A cellular component, eEF2K, plays a critical role in allowing cancer cells to survive nutrient starvation, while normal, healthy cells do not usually require eEF2K in order to survive.
Therefore, by blocking the function of eEF2K, we should be able to kill cancer cells, without harming normal, healthy cells in the process.
Hopes are that the treatment will be available within five years.