Two significant discoveries in cancer research have the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the disease and our ability to cure it. One of them is by researchers from the Francis Crick Institute and the University of Copenhagen. Cancer cells have the unfortunate habit of travelling to different tissues in our body through our bloodstream and causing tumors at unpredictable times when we believe that we have eradicated the whole lot of them. Thus, by limiting them to a specified region, it will be easier to target them and ensure that all of them are removed. The spread is caused when fibroblasts stiffen the tissues surrounding the tumors and allow the cancer cells to grip it and enter the blood vessels. They gave mice experimental drugs that targeted fibroblasts to control the stiffening and found that it successfully trapped the cancer cells.
The other discovery was made by Indian scientists from Columbia University. They have managed to cast doubts on current theories regarding the cause of the disease. They too worked with mice and found that dysfunctional variety of A20, that is thought to have a role in causing cancer, did not do anything of the sort when introduced in mice. For the first time in the history of cancer research, the gene was introduced in an animal model and it was found that the animals lived a healthy life as ever. This discovery implies that there is more to the gene and the process of cancer development then we believed. While not very helpful or pathbreaking by themselves, these discoveries shall open new avenues of research that may finally help us understand the real cause of cancer.