In all healthy cells there is a protein called Procaspase-3, if for some reason there is a problem with the cell this protein can be actives intrinsically or extrinsically to form a digestive enzyme ; Caspase-3. This is a destructive enzyme used in apoptosis (programmed cell death), however when a cell becomes cancerous this process is removed preventing the cell from controlling its mitotic division thus producing a tumour. This is relevant to all cancers but some have higher Procaspase-3 levels than others, giving the problem of how do we stop the cancer? The answer may be closer than expected as researchers from the University of Illinois (after studying around 20,000 compounds ) have discovered a molecule which triggers the Procaspase-3 activation called PAC-1. After testing on mice and human tumours they have shown that PAC-1 caused cancer cells to apoptose whilst leaving the healthy cells unaffected., as it turned out the more Procaspase-3 a cell contained the less PAC-1 was needed; leukaemia needed very little. The healthy cells were unaffected due to the significantly smaller amounts of Procaspase-3 (when compared to the healthy cells, the cancerous cells were about 2000x as sensitive). If the safety tests are successful then we may be one step closer to a cure for cancer

Christian Tuckwell-Smith