February 16, 2019

...AND CHEAPER...:

New therapy turns cancer cells into fat to stop it from spreading: Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland have hijacked cancer's cellular plasticity to turn the disease against itself. (KEVIN DICKINSON, 25 January, 2019, Big Think)

Cancer cell plasticity -- an ability that allows cancer cells to shift physiological characteristics dramatically -- fosters metastasis and is responsible for cancer's resistance to treatments. To combat its resistance, researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland decided to turn cancer's cellular plasticity against itself. They used Rosiglitazone, an anti-diabetic drug, along with MEK inhibitors in mice implanted with breast cancer cells. Their aim was to alter the cancer cells.

The drug combination hijacked the breast cancer cells during epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process by which the cells undergo biochemical changes. EMT plays a role in many bodily functions, such as tissue repair. In unaltered cancer cells, EMT allows them to migrate away from the original tumor while maintaining their oncogenic properties.

But in cancer cells assaulted by the new drug therapy, EMT changes them into adipocytes, or fat cells. Like normal fat cells, these former breast cancer cells were both functional and post-mitotic, meaning they could no longer divide and proliferate.

While the therapy did not alter the original tumor, it did prevent new cancer cells from dividing and spreading elsewhere in the body. This repressed metastasis in the researcher's preclinical trials.

Posted by at February 16, 2019 9:10 AM

  

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