Scientists at the University of Salford have identified a new drug candidate that is able to starve and suffocate cancer stem cells.

Professor Michael. P Lisanti has been carrying out research which has uncovered important findings on how to effectively target mitochondria, which normally provide all the necessary energy for rapid reproduction and spreading of cancer stem cells.

He says: “I’ve been working in cancer research for over 30 years.

“We’re focused on cancer stem cells, those are the cells that are responsible for tumour recurrence, metastasis and drug resistance, so we’re developing new ways to target those cells and eradicate them.”

The next stage in Professor Lisanti’s research is drug screening, where scientist are identifying existing FDA approved drugs that can be used to target and eradicate cancer stem cells.

The drugs that are identified are being put into clinical trials, which are also known as “window trials” where they test the successfulness of the drugs in pilot studies.

The research, led by Professors Michael P. Lisanti and Federica Sotgia, was published in the journal Frontiers in Oncology, a peer reviewed research platform that covers cancer research.

This approach using drug combinations, can potentially improve patient survival by preventing tumour recurrence and the spread of cancer cells to organs and surrounding tissues via the high-efficiency targeting of cancer stem cells.

Around 90% of all cancer patients die as a result of the cancer spreading and tumour recurrence, this being the basis of the research to identify new mitochondria inhibitors.

Professor Lisanti is hopeful that his research will be used in cancer treatment in the future.

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