DAVIS, Calif. (NewsNation) — Scientists at UC Davis in California say they have identified a “switch” that can activate the death of cancer cells — potentially paving the way for new cancer treatment.

Researchers from the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center claim the discovery can allow doctors to eliminate cancer cells without harming healthy cells. The researchers published their findings in the Nature journal Cell Death & Differentiation.

“You get targeted, specific killing of those cells that are potentially going to do you harm. Then the healthy cells are left untouched. That is just ideal,” Dr. Jill Waggoner, a family physician, said.

The implications of these new findings could potentially revolutionize cancer treatment. However, it has not yet been tested on animals or humans. It has proven successful in labs thus far.


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“This is a game changer,” said Dr. Jogender Tushir-Singh, an associate professor at UC Davis and senior author of the new cancer study. Tushir-Singh explained the combination of immunotherapy along with the activation of this new “switch” could revolutionize how doctors treat cancer.

“Think of it like a boxing game. You can keep boxing a person on the belly, but it will take forever to eliminate an opponent. But if you can make the right punch at the right place, you can really eliminate it,” Tushir-Singh said.

Tushir-Singh said his team found a certain receptor that they believe can send a signal that causes cancer cells to self-destruct.

However, the new research comes with its shortfalls and limitations. There aren’t enough clinical trials. Also, it’s shown to be the most effective in treating liquid cancers so far, not tumors.

“Liquid cancers are generally those cancers that are blood-borne cancers. So things like leukemia, where the cells are loose and circulating. So, not a solid tumor. Solid tumors are like lung cancers or ovarian cancers,” Waggoner said.

The other major drawback at this point: This treatment would cost about $500,000.