By Kristen Thometz, Chicago Tonight/WTTW
The secret weapon in the fight against cancer could be millions of years old, according to new research by Northwestern scientists.
“Ever since life became multicellular, which could be more than 2 billion years ago, it had to deal with preventing or fighting cancer,” said Northwestern scientist Marcus Peter, in a press release. “So nature must have developed a fail-safe mechanism to prevent cancer or fight it the moment it forms. Otherwise, we wouldn’t still be here.”
Researchers discovered that specific molecules trigger a mechanism, called suicide RNA molecules, hidden in every cell that causes it to commit suicide. Not only do the RNA suicide molecules prevent cancer cells from becoming resistant to them, but they also eliminate multiple genes that cancer cells need to survive.