Autophagy's dual pro- and antiapoptotic roles make it hard to determine whether inducing the process could be a viable strategy to treat cancer. In melanoma, a team led by Spanish researchers thinks the answer is yes. The group created a complex composed of a double-stranded RNA mimetic and a cationic carrier that selectively induced autophagy and cell death in melanoma but not normal skin cells.1
The question is whether the complex can be given at low doses that bypass the known toxic effects of the dsRNA mimetic in humans.
Intra- and extracellular stresses can trigger autophagy, the process by which cells degrade their own cytosolic components to prolong cell survival and-in the