An Association for International Cancer Research team has come out with the startling finding that a natural compound found in glucose blocks the development of tumors in mice. This discovery could be vital in fighting cancer and related illnesses.
The sugar molecules work by blocking the hormones that are essential for the growth of blood vessels in the tumor. In effect they strangle the tumor by blocking blood and nutrient supply to it. Cancer experts are now looking at sugar to halt the growth of tumors before they get out of hand and metastasize causing serious harm. The Clinical Cancer Research journal reports that this technique uses a complex natural sugar called heparin. "If someone has cancer, it has often spread so what you may find is that this treatment could be used once the initial tumor has been removed. It could be used to stop the cancer cells developing when they have spread. But we will have to see how it develops in future trials," said Dr Mark Matfield, scientific consultant of Association for International Cancer Research.
This sugar treatment is effective only in reducing tumor size when it is detected early, but researchers are hopeful of finding ways to integrate this treatment into the normal cancer therapy. Lead researcher Professor Gordon Jayson, of the Manchester's
Christie's Hospital was confident that they could begin clinical trials in two years' time. Dr Kat Arney, science information officer at Cancer Research UK said that the research had exciting potential and could point the way to future cancer treatments, "Because adults don't normally need to grow new blood vessels, this discovery could lead to a highly specific and effective treatment for many types of cancer. However, this research is still at an early stage and it will be essential to develop these sugars further and test their actions in patients," she commented.