This UK University has been researching new ways to slow the spread of tumorous cancers.
There has been significant past research to confirm that the spread of cancer through metastasis formation is a major cause of death.
Malignant cancer cells can cross the endothelial barrier into blood vessels enabling them to move around the body from a primary location and spread to a secondary location, where they cross the endothelial barrier again and enter tissue.
When cancer cells reach the secondary location, they produce a signalling protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that promotes the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), providing the oxygen and nutrients needed to support the metastatic tumour. VEGF also increases leak across the endothelium therefore promoting the spread of cancer cells through the body. The prognosis for patients with metastasis is poor and there is thus a great need to develop effective treatments to prevent the formation and growth of metastatic tumours.
Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose reduce the permeability of the capillary walls which can be caused by the tumour. Research has demonstrated that sucralose reduces tube formation and vascular leak in the endothelium.
The next stage of the project will establish how this protective effect extends to the tumour vasculature. Experiments with co cultures of primary endothelial, metastatic and non-metastatic cancer cell lines will be performed to demonstrate the extent to which artificial sweeteners can:
1. Strengthen the endothelium to reduce the movement of cancer cells
2. Limit the growth of new vessels in a tumour environment by blocking angiogenic processes.
These studies will take 2 years to complete and require funding for a laboratory researcher and consumables at a cost of £250,000.
The university would like to find partners to clinically trial and commercialise the product either under a licensing agreement or commercial agreement with technical assistance or a research cooperation agreement.