Experimental Drug Blows Up Brain Cancer Cells, Literally, Which Is Nothing Short Of Awesome

This news is stranger than fiction: a study published in the journal Cell shows that scientists were able to blow up tumor cells in mice brains with a special compound called Vacquinol-1, which can also come in tablet form. The compound works in unusual ways, and if it had similar results in humans, could be a huge step for researchers trying to treat brain cancer.

In the study, eight mice with transplanted human brain-cancer cells ingested Vacquinol-1 for five days. Eighty days later, six of those mice were still alive — far longer than the average 30 days of survival that mice in the control group faced.

Here's what happens internally: Vacquinol-1 begins its work in the tumor cells, making them absorb outside material into vacuoles (or bags). Eventually, the vacuoles fill up with so much material that the cell walls collapse, the cells explode, and then die. The fascinating part of the results is that only these brain tumor cells are affected — no other neurons or brain cells exploded.

While this is certainly a huge step in cancer research, Vacquinol-1 is not a cure for cancer. First of all, the study experimented solely on mice. On the other hand, we have no idea how human brains would react to Vacquinol-1 explosions in their brains. And unfortunately, Vacquinol-1 only appeared to work on brain tumor cells only — and not any other kind of tumor cells.

That said, the study's conclusion suggests that further studies on humans and other cells could be carried out. Hypothetically, if if they went well, the Vacquinol-1 could become an brain cancer therapy, and further studies could also elicit other compounds to treat different cancers.