New cancer treatments could be developed targeting tumours driven by mutations in a gene known as KRAS, scientists have said.
Alterations in the KRAS gene are associated with just under a third (30 per cent) of human cancers, including those of the pancreas, lungs and leukemia.
With current cancer treatments proving less effective in treating these forms of the disease, researchers at Harvard Medical School focused their attentions on what KRAS-driven cancers need in order to thrive.
It was discovered that KRAS-influenced cancer cells are sensitive to the suppression of serine/threonine kinase STK33, which raises the possibility that STK33 may be a possible treatment target for certain forms of cancer.
Commenting on the findings, Gary Gilliland, of Harvard Medical School, said: "The beauty of the strategy is that it would take only 50 to 70 per cent knockdown of STK33 to kill a cancer cell.
"It relies on a unique frailty of the cancer cell that normal cells don't have."
Scientists remain unable to explain why leukemia will develop in one person and not in another - even in the case of identical twins