August 8, 2008

Study Determines How Chemo Kills Tumors

British medical scientists say they have determined how some chemotherapy drugs kill cancerous tumors.

University of Manchester researchers said they focused on anti-mitotic drugs that are used extensively in the United Kingdom for breast and ovarian cancer.

Led by Dr. Stephen Taylor, the scientists noted the anti-mitotic drugs, as in all chemotherapy, produce side effects. Their goal, they said, was to reduce those side effects and test the effectiveness of new and safer drugs.

"To bypass the neurotoxicity, new anti-mitotics are being generated," Taylor said. "Early clinical studies show that these drugs do not result in significant neurotoxicity. The big question now is whether they will have anti-tumor effects. To help determine this, we need to know which types of tumors are likely to be sensitive to these new agents, and which ones are likely to be resistant.

"Basically, we just watched the cells using time-lapse microscopy," said Taylor. "This allowed us to track behavior of individual cells and determine their fate when exposed to different anti-mitotic drugs."

The researchers said they discovered variation in cell behavior is far greater than previously recognized.

The study that included graduate student Karen Gascoigne appears in the journal Cancer Cell.