According to researchers at Barts Cancer Institute, a molecule, called focal adhesion kinase (FAK), signals the body to repair itself after chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which kill cancer cells by damaging DNA and when they removed FAK from blood vessels that grew in melanoma or lung cancer models, both chemotherapy and radiation therapies were far more effective in killing the tumours.
The researchers also studied samples taken from lymphoma patients. Those with low levels of FAK in their blood vessels were more likely to have complete remission following treatment. This suggests that developing drugs to strike out FAK in cancer blood vessels may boost cancer treatments and prevent cancer from coming back.
It was revealed that although taking out FAK from blood vessels won't destroy the cancer by itself, it can remove the barrier cancer uses to protect itself from treatment.
Cells lining the blood vessels send chemical signals, called cytokines, to the tumour to help it resist DNA damage and to recover. The researchers demonstrated that this process requires FAK in order to work, and without it, these signals are never sent - making the tumour more vulnerable to DNA damaging therapy.
The study was published in Nature.