ANCHOR LEAD: COLON CANCER CELLS MAY SOON BE SPECIFICALLY DESTOYED BY A VERY SMALL INVADER, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
A peptide can be thought of as a very small protein. Now Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a peptide that homes in on colon cancer cells to the exclusion of all others. When they linked a radioactive molecule to this peptide, they were able to kill just colon cancer cells. John Abraham, a colon cancer expert, evokes Louis Pasteur in admitting this was a case of chance favoring the prepared mind.
ABRAHAM: It was really discovered kind of by accident. We were using it as a tracer to look for other proteins that might bind, and low and behold, this just happened to bind to the cells and transfer the radioisotope into the cells in as short as two hours. We don’t know how it works and that’s what we’re working on now. :21
Abraham is now collaborating with experts in imaging systems and radiation oncology to ramp up the method for possible use in people. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.