Chemotherapy goes back to basics

Jeffrey Krise and colleagues at the University of Kansas at Lawrence have found a simple way to improve chemotherapy drugs, which works by making them basic. The new approach should allow anticancer drugs to accumulate in both normal and malignant cells, but be active only in the latter. The approach side-steps the issue of finding a magic bullet method of targeting cancer cells only and works because unlike healthy cells, cancer cells have an impaired ability to isolate and excrete basic substances, and so get hit with the full cytotoxic effect of the drug. "It could allow cancer patients to tolerate higher and more effective doses of chemotherapy before normal cells are damaged to an extent that causes serious side effects and cessation of therapy," Krise explains.