Scientists with Cancer Research UK have discovered that an essential self-destruct switch in cells is hijacked, which may make some non small cell lung and pancreatic cancers more aggressive.

The team, from the Cancer Research UK Centre at the UCL (University College London) Cancer Institute, found that mutations in the KRAS gene interferes with protective self-destruct switches, known as TRAIL receptors, which usually help to kill potentially cancerous cells.

The research, carried out in cancer cells and mice, shows that in cancers with faulty versions of the KRAS gene these TRAIL receptors actually help the cancer cells to grow and spread to new areas in the body.

These KRAS faults occur in 95% of pancreatic cancers and 30% of non small cell lung cancers.

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