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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 ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday May 07, 2012 @09:55PM (#39923461) Homepage

    Interestingly the Nature article doesn't make mention of this mechanism in cancer cells other than to show it exists in a particular brain cancer clone. As the saying goes, 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary data' - at this point we're at the mercy of the idiot PR summary and a single statement from one of the researchers.

    The idea that you could wipe out cancer cells selectively (if this pathway is indeed common to malignant cells AND not required by normal cells) is nice but lets hold our breath, shall we.

    I've lost count on how many times cancer has been cured according to various and sundry press releases. Of interest perhaps, is that there isn't an editorial note on the paper. Nature tends to do this for papers that they perceive to have a major result. The editorial typically gives some background and insight to the paper to allow people who aren't in the field to understand it's significance.

  • Remarkably, not only is adaptation for low-oxygen conditions visible in the majority of malignancies (the Warburg Effect [wikipedia.org]), but it's so prevalent it's actually considered one of the hallmarks of cancer [wikipedia.org]. The reason this happens is easy to imagine: since the tumor has an extreme growth rate and abnormal vasculature, it may have trouble getting the amount of oxygen tha cells normally need in order to survive. It's likely that if they can actually safely target this pathway, they may have the next blockbuster cancer drug on their hands.

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