Scientists studying a virus that attacks phytoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean have discovered a new lipid that could play a key role in the development of cancer treatment cancer treatment.
The fatty compound was found in a germ that is killing Emiliania huxlevi - a phytoplankton that reduces carbon in the atmosphere by photosynthesis in the same way as land-based plant organisms do.
Researchers from Rutgers University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution collaborated on the research.
They found that the lipid may hold the key to why cancer cells are unable to commit 'cell suicide' - the process in which a stressed or damaged cell shuts itself down.
"It's a critical aspect of cancer research, because cancer cells have figured out a way to turn off the programmed cell death pathway," explained Rutgers assistant professor of marine science in the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences Kay Bidle.
"In cancer studies, they try to figure out ways to reactivate those pathways.”
Meanwhile, researchers at the Breakthrough Brest Cancer Research Unit at the University of Edinburgh have found that almost two-fifths of breast cancers change form when they spread to the lymph nodes in the underarm area.