In the realm of cancerous diseases, tumors affecting the brain can be particularly difficult to cure. Many are fast moving and take hold of key sections of the body's most fundamental organ, rendering surgical removal extremely difficult or impossible.
Now, researchers at Harvard Stem Cell Institute have come up with a new method for battling these deadly brain tumors — by taking them apart from the inside out. In a new study, the scientists have engineered stem cells to secrete cancer-killing cytotoxins that degrade the tumor from within its core.
Cytotoxins are poisonous to all living cells, but for the past couple of decades, doctors have figured out ways to alter them so that they only target specific tumor cells. Essentially the cells will only enter cancer cells with specific surface molecules. Then, once inside the cancer cell, the cytotoxin shuts down protein production, causing the cell to die.