Doctors are hopeful about a new drug to treat skin cancer by causing tumor cells to self-destruct by overloading them with oxygen.
Unlike regular cells, which can control their oxygen levels relatively easily, cancer cells have trouble balancing the levels.
With the new drug STA-4783, doctors may be able to overload the cancer cells with oxygen-containing chemicals to the point where the cells cannot cope and simply die off, according to research presented Wednesday at a meeting of the European Cancer Organization in Barcelona.
"We are taking advantage of the Achilles heel of cancer cells," said Dr. Anthony Williams, vice president of clinical research at Synta Pharmaceuticals Corp., based in Lexington, Massachusetts, which paid for the study.
STA-4783, which has no effect on normal cells, is the first of several such drugs planned for study, though no other companies have yet to release results from their research.