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New cancer killing method CICD 'better at wiping out cells'

By Lucinda Cameron

Scientists have discovered a process to trigger the death of cancer cells that they believe could be more effective than current methods.

The new method - Caspase-Independent Cell Death (CICD) - led to the eradication of tumours in experimental models.

Currently most anti-cancer therapies (chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy) work by killing cancer cells through a process called apoptosis, which activates proteins called caspases, leading to cell death.

However, in apoptosis, therapies often fail to kill all cancer cells, leading to disease recurrence, and can also have unwanted side-effects that may even promote cancer.

The University of Glasgow scientists wanted to develop a way to improve therapy that induces cancer cell killing while also mitigating unwanted toxicity.

Dr Stephen Tait, who works with the Institute of Cancer Sciences, said: "Our research found that triggering Caspase-Independent Cell Death (CICD), but not apoptosis, often led to complete tumour regression.

"Especially under conditions of partial therapeutic response, as our experiments mimic, our data suggests that triggering tumour-specific CICD, rather than apoptosis, may be a more effective way to treat cancer."

Unlike apoptosis, which is a silent form of cell death, when cancer cells die through CICD, they alert the immune system through the release of inflammatory proteins. The immune system can then attack the remaining tumour cells that evaded initial therapy-induced death.

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