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Canada Medicine News

Low Oxygen Cellular Protein Synthesis Mechanism Discovered 94

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the live-forever dept.
New submitter _prime writes "Until recently the mechanism by which cells make proteins in low-oxygen environments has been unknown. As published in Nature (paywall) this week, the discovery of the mechanism by an Ottawa-based team of researchers potentially means it could be 'very easy to kill cancer cells' without harming normal cells because cancer cells leverage the same low-oxygen protein synthesis mechanism even in the presence of normal oxygen levels."
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Low Oxygen Cellular Protein Synthesis Mechanism Discovered

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  • by Americano (920576) on Monday May 07, 2012 @10:52PM (#39923441)

    Can't say definitively, but one of the major characteristics of cancer cells are that they evade apoptosis (cell 'suicide' in cases of damage, etc.), and if you go read up on apoptosis, you'll see that one of the common triggering effects is hypoxia (low oxygen). It's certainly conceivable that the cancer cells, in disregarding apoptosis commands, utilize this low-oxygen synthesis pathway to continue multiplying, and that preventing the cells from using that pathway would cause them to die normally - in other words, the cancer cell MAY receive the signal to die, and shut down its "normal oxygen" protein synthesis pathway, but start (or continue) using the low-oxygen pathway, instead of dying.

    Very speculative, but it could very well be something that's fundamental to many broad categories of cancer cell. IF it turns out to be as effective as suggested (hoped), it would add a powerful new treatment to the chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical treatments already being used. If it doesn't, it still offers some potential insight into how cancer cells function, which could lead to development of other treatment protocols. It could also lead to better treatments of heart disease & stroke, since lack of oxygen to various cells & organs is one of the major components of damage in both of those conditions.

    Wish Nature wasn't behind a paywall, the newspaper interview & writeup are interesting, but scant of detail.

  • by JMZero (449047) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:52AM (#39924417) Homepage

    This kind of thinking is fantastically disconnected from reality - naive, junior-high, my-parents-don't-get-it thinking. Big pharma execs would do anything for a cancer cure; it would mean fame, money, and prestige out their eyes. And if one solitary idiot at that board meeting said something about not releasing it because of long term profits (or some other BS) he'd get laughed out of a job and be a funny story in someone's memoirs.

    Now sure, they'd do what they could to milk it for profits - but they'd be damn sure it got out there before anyone else could. Hell, even if releasing it wasn't profitable at all (and it would be - obviously, obviously, obviously, obviously), they'd burn their company down if they had to.

    Very, very few people would consider holding back on a cure for money; not many of those psychopaths have the personal skills to end up at the top of a big corporation, and getting a whole raft of them together would be nigh impossible. Imagining collusion across all the companies on something like this is ridiculous.

  • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @05:19AM (#39925293) Homepage Journal

    I did think about making the (extremely obvious) remark that if one is capable of handling that question, one already has access to Nature and is well-acquainted with why there's a "paywall", and why the Ottawa Citizen is not even remotely the appropriate venue for discussing hypoxia pathways or translation initiation factors—but that does look slightly worse on one's permanent record, and it burns up the opportunity for someone else to come along and have the question answered in a more serious light.

    And to be honest, Slashdot doesn't need more snarkery. One of its greatest assets is its plenitude of technically intelligent and experienced comment-posters, and that's a really wonderful resource for a community to have. Cynicism can do little but poison the site's ability to attract new users—and there have been lots of times I wish I could hit someone on the head (often myself) for unnecessary posturing, taking up a position of authority obviously beyond the extent of his or her knowledge, or responding to sloppy critique with an outright attack. Being unexpectedly kind can get jerkwads to shut up, too—and it's more likely to make the impressionable newbie or lurker contribute positively in the future, rather than emulating (limp-wristedly) the venom of others.

  • by sir-gold (949031) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @10:48AM (#39927829)

    This kind of thinking is fantastically disconnected from reality - naive, junior-high, my-parents-don't-get-it thinking. Big pharma execs would do anything for a cancer cure; it would mean fame, money, and prestige out their eyes. And if one solitary idiot at that board meeting said something about not releasing it because of long term profits (or some other BS) he'd get laughed out of a job and be a funny story in someone's memoirs.

    Now sure, they'd do what they could to milk it for profits - but they'd be damn sure it got out there before anyone else could. Hell, even if releasing it wasn't profitable at all (and it would be - obviously, obviously, obviously, obviously), they'd burn their company down if they had to.

    Very, very few people would consider holding back on a cure for money; not many of those psychopaths have the personal skills to end up at the top of a big corporation, and getting a whole raft of them together would be nigh impossible. Imagining collusion across all the companies on something like this is ridiculous.

    What exactly is a psychopath?

    "Superficially charming, psychopaths tend to make a good first impression on others and often strike observers as remarkably normal. Yet they are self-centered, dishonest and undependable, and at times they engage in irresponsible behavior for no apparent reason other than the sheer fun of it. Largely devoid of guilt, empathy and love, they have casual and callous interpersonal and romantic relationships. Psychopaths routinely offer excuses for their reckless and often outrageous actions, placing blame on others instead. They rarely learn from their mistakes or benefit from negative feedback, and they have difficulty inhibiting their impulses."

    Replace the word "fun" with "profit", and the word "romantic" with "economic", and you have the DEFINITION of any large publicly traded company

    There has been at least one documentary showing that all corporations engage in psychopathic and sociopathic behaviors on a regular basis, especially in thier callous disregard for human life, the union carbide disaster is a great example of this.

    if one solitary idiot at that board meeting said something about not releasing it because of long term profits (or some other BS) he'd get laughed out of a job

    What if that "one solitary idiot" is the single largest shareholder (directly representing himself)? what are they going to do, laugh at him till he sells his share of the company? You assume that board members can be fired, but the majority of board members either personally own significant stock in the company, or they represent someone who does. The CEO (and CFO, CTO, etc) are the only ones who can be fired, because they are employees of the company, not shareholder representatives.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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