Scientists develop new process to induce death of cancer cells


The fight against cancer has scored a major victory today, after researchers develop a brand new process to induce the death of cancerous cells.

The new method, known as Caspase Independent Cell Death (CICD), has achieved total eradication of tumours in experimental models.

Current standard treatments for cancer patients include chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which kill off cancer cells via apoptosis.

Apoptosis is a sort of ‘programmed cell death’, where a cell is effectively induced to kill itself. This process involves proteins called caspases, which kick off the apoptosis process by breaking down the essential components needed for cell survival. The cells shrink, and as they do, they send out distress signals which are picked up by the human immune system. Macrophages (white blood cells) are then dispatched to consume the dying cell, essentially cleaning up the body. Apoptosis is often neat and leads no trace of the cell.

Despite its efficacy, apoptosis often fails to kill off all targeted cells, and crucially, the remaining cancerous cells fail to trigger an immune response, which is the reason why some types of cancer tend to reoccur.

CICD triggers cell death in such a way that the dying cell alerts the human immune system via the release of inflammatory proteins. The body responds and kills off the cancerous cells that escaped treatment.

CICD has shown great potential by inducing complete tumour regression in experimental models, and the results suggest new ways of treating cancer more effectively in the near future.

Belfast-based science team makes major breakthrough in the ongoing fight against prostate cancer


Prostate cancer has one of the highest morbidity index of all cancers among Irish people. Early stages of the disease cause little to no symptoms, so it is either detected early via a routine check, or too late, when the disease is already at an advanced stage.


If caught and treated early, the 5-year survival rate is almost 90%, whereas late-stage disease carries a significantly lower chance of survival.

It has emerged today that a Belfast team has made a major breakthrough in the treatment of the disease.

Depending on how little or how much the cancer has spread, treatment options are varied, usually involving a combination of radiotherapy, surgery, and support therapies.

Now, researchers in Belfast have tested a novel treatment technique that combines an existing androgen-deprivation therapy with a new compound, OCT1002.

OCT1002 is a novel, hypoxia-activated prodrug that inhibits the expression of genes commonly associated with prostate cancer.

In-vivo testing showed that OCT1002, when used concomitantly with hormone treatment, caused markedly increased apoptosis of malignant cells, leading to enhanced tumor growth control.

The team also believes that this new combination treatment will greatly reduce the chances of relapse, as OCT1002 selectively targets hypoxic (‘low oxygen’) tumor cells. Tumor hypoxia is commonly associated with genetic aberrations in affected cells, which may trigger disease relapse.

Speaking about the breakthrough, study leader Dr. Declan McKenna said that clinical trials are needed, but explained that: “Hormone therapy is an effective treatment but its success with more resistant cancer cells is limited.”

“By combining hormone therapy with this new drug we have for the first time discovered a way to destroy these resistant cells that may otherwise lead to relapse or the spread of cancer cells.”