A recent discovery on a characteristic of cancer that has been known to scientists for nearly a century has recently been made, and it could help towards the development of cancer fighting drugs. Cancer cells, unlike normal human cells, have an abnormal amount of chromosome pairs when compared to that of our chromosome count of 23 which is called aneuploidy. However, cancer scientists and researchers have known this for a long time, and has been considered a primary characteristic of these cancer cells. When these unusual chromosome counts begin to form in cancer, it has been seen that these cells not only ‘tolerate’ it, but the abnormal count can even begin to aid toward the progression of the disease. The majority of cancerous diseases share this trait, as nearly 90% of all solid tumors (breast cancer and colon cancer) and 75% of blood cancer are naturally aneuploid. Recent studies researching aneuploidy have found what scientists are calling the ‘Achilles Heel’ of cancer cells. In a recent experiment, researchers contrasted the effects of certain drugs on cells that exhibited high levels versus low levels of aneuploidy, and found that the cancer cells with the higher concentrations demonstrated a higher sensitivity to damage to the mitotic checkpoint (acts to ensure the proper separation of chromosomes during cell division), as well as finding the molecular basis for the heightened sensitivity of aneuploid cancer cells. What this means is that it will be possible to use aneuploidy to identify patients who will respond better to drugs that delay the separation of chromosomes. Delaying the separation of chromosomes delays the synthesis of new cancer cells, and overall slows down the formation of the disease. However, it should be noted that the study was solely performed on cells in a culture and not on actual patients, so future research will have to be performed. Regardless, this is still a major milestone in the development of cancer research, and is cause for optimism and hope for the future.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "'Achilles' heel' of cancer cells revealed: Research could lead to development of future drugs to eliminate the cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210127135959.htm>.