Sufferers of a rare disease – Tuberous Sclerosis – have new hope for a treatment after pioneering research at Cardiff University. Tuberous Sclerosis (TS) is a genetic tumour syndrome, where sufferers develop different tumours throughout their body. Dr Elaine Dunlop and her team have been studying the complex cell pathways involved in tumour formation and have found two drugs that appear to stop tumour cells in their tracks.
The scientists found that TS tumour cells in animal models were making more proteins than normal and struggling to cope with this increased workload. They reasoned that stressing these cells further might cause them to undergo programmed cell death, killing off these tumour cells. Nelfinavir (an anti-HIV drug) and Bortezomib (used to treat blood cancer) work by increasing cell stress and so were tested on TS cells. The results were outstanding: the combination of these two drugs killed the tumour cells.
This means that people with TS may soon have access to drugs that allow them to live a normal life. Furthermore, this will pave the way for further research, helping us inch ever closer to that elusive cure for cancer.