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Thursday 19 October 2017

Blood find boosts hope for cancer treatments

Removing a molecule in blood vessels could help to increase the effectiveness of cancer treatments, according to new research.

Scientists discovered that the molecule which helps repair the body after chemotherapy or radiotherapy, known as focal adhesion kinase (FAK), was actually helping shield the deadly cells from the life-saving treatment.

The Cancer Research UK team at Barts Cancer Institute, part of Queen Mary University of London, found that when they removed FAK from blood vessels that grow in melanoma or lung cancer models, both chemotherapy and radiation therapies were more effective.

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The researchers also studied samples taken from lymphoma patients. Those with low levels of FAK were more likely to have complete remission following treatment. The findings suggest that developing drugs to eliminate FAK in cancer blood vessels may boost treatments.

Dr Bernardo Tavora, lead author on the paper from the Barts Cancer Institute, said: "Although taking out FAK from blood vessels won't destroy the cancer by itself, it can remove the barrier cancer uses to protect itself from treatment."

Dr Kat Arney, Cancer Research UK's science communications manager, said: "This research . . . gives real hope that we can boost the effectiveness of cancer medicine"

The findings have been published in Nature.

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