Combo Treatment Slows Cancer Cell Growth

Could become effective therapy against cells that keep proliferating

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MONDAY, Jan. 17, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- A combination therapy that boosts the effectiveness of a promising cancer treatment designed to block cancer cells from continuously dividing is outlined in a Japanese study in the January issue of Cancer Cell.

This combination therapy seems to improve the action of a treatment that targets telomeres in cancer cells.

Telomeres are DNA sequences that play a crucial role in controlling the life spans of cells. Telomeres grow shorter each time a cell divides. Eventually, telomeres grow so short that they cause cell division to stop.

Cancer cells produce an enzyme called telomerase that prevents telomeres from getting short enough to stop cell division.

Healthy cells do not use telomerase, which has been identified as a target for anticancer drugs.

This study examined what happened to cancer cells when telomerase-inhibiting treatment was combined with inhibition of an enzyme called tankyrase 1, which helps make telomeres accessible to telomerase. The study found that inhibition of tankyrase 1 boosted telomerase inhibition therapy, resulting in enhanced telomere shortening and accelerated cancer cell death.

"This study provides insight into strategies for telomere-based molecular cancer therapeutics. We expect that inhibition of tankyrase 1 will compensate for incomplete inhibition of telomerase. Consequently, this strategy would shorten the time period of drug treatment that is required for the onset of telomere crisis and reduce the potential risk of acquired drug resistance," the study authors wrote.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about cancer.

SOURCE: Cell Press, news release, Jan. 17, 2005

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