Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Medicine Science

New Treatment Kills Metastatic Cancer Cells 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the search-and-destroy dept.
robert2cane points out a promising study from Cornell University about controlling the spread of cancer. There are many treatments for an isolated tumor, but once cancer cells reach the bloodstream and start spreading through the body, it's much more difficult to control. The new research (PDF), led by Michael King, developed a compound that is able to target and eliminate cancer cells in the blood of mice. "When attempting to develop a treatment for metastases, King faced two problems: targeting moving cancer cells and ensuring cell death could be activated once they were located. To handle both issues, he built fat-based nanoparticles that were one thousand times smaller than a human hair and attached two proteins to them. One is E-selectin, which selectively binds to white blood cells, and the other is TRAIL. He chose to stick the nanoparticles to white blood cells because it would keep the body from excreting them easily. This means the nanoparticles, made from fat molecules, remain in the blood longer and thus have a greater chance of bumping into freely moving cancer cells. There is an added advantage. Red blood cells tend to travel in the center of a blood vessel, and white blood cells stick to the edges. This is because red blood cells are lower density and can be easily deformed to slide around obstacles. Cancer cells have a similar density to white blood cells and remain close to the walls, too. As a result, these nanoparticles are more likely to bump into cancer cells and bind their TRAIL receptors."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New Treatment Kills Metastatic Cancer Cells

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Better headline (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie@hotmaiLIONl.com minus cat> on Saturday January 11, 2014 @10:04AM (#45926137) Homepage

    "New treatment kills some but not all metastatic cancer cells in mice, but only while they're traversing the bloodstream

    A situation that is very dangerous and often leads to untreatable, fatal cancerous growth.

    and so far only when the cells are injected into the mice in the first place".

    That is also explained rather well in the article: there is no good way of predicting when or if a cancerous growth would ever become metastatic and enter the bloodstream, so the only way of actually testing the treatment is to inject the cells there. I mean, they can't really just sit on their thumbs hoping for the cancer to enter the bloodstream when it could be anything between 1 week to 10 years of waiting or it could simply not happen at all, now can they? The cells entering the bloodstream via ordinary methods or via an injection, however, don't change the results of the treatment -- the delivery method of the cells inside the body and the effects of them remain the same.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @10:37AM (#45926289)

    Physicist Lowell Wood in a brainstorming meeting: a question for everyone. You have a tumor, and the tumor becomes metastatic, and it sheds metastatic cancer cells. How long do those circulate in the bloodstream before they land?’ And we all said, ‘We don’t know. Ten times?’ ‘No,’ he said. ‘As many as a million times.’ Isn’t that amazing? If you had no time, you’d be screwed. But it turns out that these cells are in your blood for as long as a year before they land somewhere. What that says is that you’ve got a chance to intercept them.”
    How did Wood come to this conclusion? He had run across a stray fact in a recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. “It was an article that talked about, at one point, the number of cancer cells per millilitre of blood,” he said. “And I looked at that figure and said, ‘Something’s wrong here. That can’t possibly be true.’ The number was incredibly high. Too high. It has to be one cell in a hundred litres, not what they were saying—one cell in a millilitre. Yet they spoke of it so confidently. I clicked through to the references. It was a commonplace. There really were that many cancer cells.”
    Wood did some arithmetic. He knew that human beings have only about five litres of blood. He knew that the heart pumps close to a hundred millilitres of blood per beat, which means that all of our blood circulates through our bloodstream in a matter of minutes. The New England Journal article was about metastatic breast cancer, and it seemed to Wood that when women die of metastatic breast cancer they don’t die with thousands of tumors. The vast majority of circulating cancer cells don’t do anything.
    “It turns out that some small per cent of tumor cells are actually the deadly ones,” he went on. “Tumor stem cells are what really initiate metastases. And isn’t it astonishing that they have to turn over at least ten thousand times before they can find a happy home? You naïvely think it’s once or twice or three times. Maybe five times at most. It isn’t. In other words, metastatic cancer—the brand of cancer that kills us—is an amazingly hard thing to initiate. Which strongly suggests that if you tip things just a little bit you essentially turn off the process.”

Nothing will dispel enthusiasm like a small admission fee. -- Kim Hubbard

Working...