Injecting Salt Can Kill Cancer Cells, Reveals Study

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By Smitha Nambiar | August 15, 2014 12:45 PM EST

Scientists at the University of Southampton have created a molecule that causes cancer cells to self-destruct and die by injecting salt into them.

The fight against cancer is about to get a lot easier as scientists have found that injecting salt into cancer cells 'kills' it completely. By injecting sodium and chloride ions into the cancer cells, the scientists have been able to create a molecule that causes cancer cells to self-destruct and kill themselves. "This work shows how chloride transporters can work with sodium channels in cell membranes to cause an influx of salt into a cell," said Philip Gale, study co-author professor from the University of Southampton in Britain. He further added, "We found we can trigger cell death with salt."

Reuters
Qin Zhengu shows tumours on his fingers caused due to skin cancer June 23, 2014

The human body cells are designed to maintain a stable concentration of ions inside their cell membranes. When this balance is disrupted, cells begin to go through apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death. The programmed cell death is an automatic mechanism that the body uses to remove the damaged cells. However, for cancerous cells, the way the ions are transported across its cell membrane changes, thus blocking the process of apoptosis.

The researchers have now developed a synthetic way for transporting the ions, but sadly, this technique destroys the damaged as well as the healthy cells in the body. This obstacle has to be overcome so that it can be successfully used for the treatment of cancer. "We have thus closed the loop and shown that this mechanism of chloride influx into the cell by a synthetic transporter does indeed trigger apoptosis. This is exciting because it points the way towards a new approach to anti-cancer drug development," said Professor Jonathan Sessler, at Austin's College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas.

The findings of the study were published in journal Nature Chemistry.

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(Photo: Reuters / Jason Lee)
Qin Zhengu shows tumours on his fingers caused due to skin cancer June 23, 2014
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