Scientists have cracked how cancer can become resistant to drugs.

It is well known that cancer can often become resistant to therapy, and now a recent breakthrough from scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research has unveiled why it occurs occurs.

The breakthrough promises to lead to new therapies which will make tumours less likely to become resistant.

Tumours “steal” the blood supply from other parts of the body, as they require a constant blood supply in order to grow, divide and spread. They often grow new blood vessels which allow them to take the bodies blood supply, providing them with oxygen and nutrients. In order to halt the growth of new blood vessels, patients are often given drugs to stop this but the tumours can become resistant in a matter of weeks.

However, the recent study at the Institute of Cancer Research has found this resistance is due to tumours finding alternative blood supplies. The scientists believe that the tumours shift slightly to a new area of blood cells. Dr Andrew Reynolds said, “our study is the first to show that cancers can adapt to treatment by actively co-opting blood vessels from nearby tissues as a mechanism of drug resistance. In the future, we hope our results will lead to the development of new drug types that target vessel co-option.” Drugs to stop this may already exist but require testing for safety and efficacy.

This shows promise for future treatments which using a “twin attack” could halt both the tumour growing new blood vessels and stop the co-opting of nearby blood vessels.