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Detritus From Cancer Cells May Infect Healthy Cells 46

bmahersciwriter writes Tiny bubbles of cell membrane — called exosomes — are shed by most cells. Long thought to be mere trash, researchers had recently noticed that they often contain short, regulatory RNA molecules, suggesting that exosomes may be one way that cells communicate with one another. Now, it appears that RNA in the exosomes shed by tumor cells can get into healthy cells and 'transform' them, putting them on the path to becoming cancerous themselves.
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Detritus From Cancer Cells May Infect Healthy Cells

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  • Assumptions... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by curious.corn ( 167387 ) on Friday October 24, 2014 @08:18AM (#48219735)
    Isn't it great when decades old assumptions are challenged and new research and understanding avenues open up? Can't beat science...
  • " Five of the 11 exosome samples from the patients induced tumour growth when mixed with normal cells and injected into mice"

    Seems unlikely, there would be some statistical evidence in caregivers by now.
    Which says that probably have a ways to go before really understanding what they have seen here.

  • From TFA:

    "But trying to slow cancer by blocking exosomes is a difficult proposition, says Al-Nedawii. It is unclear how that would affect normal cells, he notes, and some exosomes from healthy cells have been shown to contain proteins that prevent cancer"

    Too bad. I wonder whether they differ enough from non-malicious exosomes that they could be targeted/inhibited specifically with a different kind of chemotherapy drug to silence 'malangelizing' tumor cells.

    • The exosomes will be similar, only the content will differ. Also, its still not clear how much these exosome travel. They might end up far from any tumor cell, making it impractical for targeting.
  • by digsbo ( 1292334 ) on Friday October 24, 2014 @10:51AM (#48220999)
    Either in the DNA or any other part of the body's systems. We just made a lot of simplifying assumptions to get a handle on some extremely complex systems (i.e. genes are the only place inheritable traits are carried). Now we have to start addressing the complexity behind those simplifying assumptions.
  • by pz ( 113803 ) on Friday October 24, 2014 @11:23AM (#48221445) Journal

    A small encapsulatory structure containing a fragment of RNA. I'm not a microbiologist, so can someone tell me how these things are different from a virus?

    • Probably because they don't self-replicate?
      • by Misagon ( 1135 )

        Viruses don't self-replicate, but they cause themselves to be replicated by cells they have infected.

        • by pz ( 113803 )

          And that should have been part of my posting above that asked the question -- these fragments dock with other cells, inject the RNA, and that RNA causes the cells to become cancerous, which, in turn creates more of these little RNA capsulettes.

          I'm sure there are some differences between these and classical virus structure, in some way, but given my ignorance of the subject, they walk and talk like viruses.

          • I'm sure there are some differences between these and classical virus structure, in some way, but given my ignorance of the subject, they walk and talk like viruses.

            And, who knows, might actually be how viruses originated.

        • People can't self-replicate either, without consuming resources as they do so.
    • by xigxag ( 167441 )

      Viruses by definition contain genetic code from outside the host organism. They're invaders who hijack natural reproductive cellular processes, so of course you're going to be able to point to things that cells do that viruses also do. That doesn't make them the same. Proviruses may employ a very-superficially similar mechanism to what is outlined here but lytic viruses work totally differently, i.e. basically exploding the cells they infect by their rampant copypasta.

      • Viruses by definition contain genetic code from outside the host organism.

        On the other hand, just as some organelles (i.e. mitochondria, chloroplasts) are apparently the remnant of a microbial infection or ancient symbiosis that became integrated, there are several cellular mechanisms that are apparently remnants of an ancient retrovirus infection, where the bulk of the viral genome was lost but one of its mechanisms was retained and adapted to perform some useful new function.

        I'd be willing to bet this is

  • .. This finding is not entirely surprising, as the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction has been understood for quite some time, particularly relevant to treatment of bacterial infection.

    Nutshell, antibodies, natural or pharmaceutical, kill bacteria, causing them to dump endotoxins contained within the bacteria into the bloodstream, often causing the patient to feel significantly worse for a period of time.

    Not unlike taking a large garbage bag out of the dumpster, throwing it into your swimming pool, then cutting it

  • This should be REALLY USEFUL - for gene therapy and stem cell therapy.

    One of the big problems with such therapies is how to deliver the modified genes or regulators to the target cells, without converting them to something that would be rejected or otherwise have unintended markers or modifications.

    One approach is to deliver genes or regulatory chemicals via a modified virius or using viral capsid proteins to construct an "injector". (A family of methods for turning harvested somatic cells into toti/pluri/

  • Does anybody knows if exosomes would be removed from the blood stream if the "biospleen" is used? http://www.nature.com/news/art... [nature.com]

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"