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  1. NRG
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       #1  
    Can any of you Docs or Biologists tell me how close something like this would be?

    Article
    Source: BBC

    Cancer cell 'executioner' found

    Scientists have developed a way of "executing" cancer cells.
    Healthy cells have a built-in process which means they commit suicide if something is wrong, a process which fails in cancer cells.

    -snip-

    All cells contain a protein called procaspase-3, which the body should be able to turn into caspase-3 - an executioner enzyme.

    But this transformation does not happen in cancer cells, even though certain types, such as colon cancer, leukaemia, skin and liver cancers paradoxically have very high levels of procaspase-3.

    -snip-

    Healthy cells unaffected

    -snip-

    Healthy cells, such as white blood cells, were found to be significantly less affected by the addition of PAC-1 because they had much lower levels of procaspase-3, so cell-suicide could not be triggered.

    Actual Study
    Source: Nature.com

    Mutation and aberrant expression of apoptotic proteins are hallmarks of cancer. These changes prevent proapoptotic signals from being transmitted to executioner caspases, thereby averting apoptotic death and allowing cellular proliferation. Caspase-3 is the key executioner caspase, and it exists as an inactive zymogen that is activated by upstream signals. Notably, concentrations of procaspase-3 in certain cancerous cells are significantly higher than those in noncancerous controls. Here we report the identification of a small molecule (PAC-1) that directly activates procaspase-3 to caspase-3 in vitro and induces apoptosis in cancerous cells isolated from primary colon tumors in a manner directly proportional to the concentration of procaspase-3 inside these cells. We found that PAC-1 retarded the growth of tumors in three different mouse models of cancer, including two models in which PAC-1 was administered orally. PAC-1 is the first small molecule known to directly activate procaspase-3 to caspase-3, a transformation that allows induction of apoptosis even in cells that have defective apoptotic machinery. The direct activation of executioner caspases is an anticancer strategy that may prove beneficial in treating the many cancers in which procaspase-3 concentrations are elevated.
  2. #2  
    If they haven't tested this in humans, it could be pretty far off. First, they need to evaluate the proper dosage for the trials. Then, presuming this is done in the US, they'll need to go through four phases of clinical trials. Each phase can take from one to several years. If the initial phases are very promising, they can apply for an Invesitgational Drug application and open it up to a wider group of patients.

    But it does sound promising.
  3. NRG
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       #3  
    Thanks Hoovs. Anybody else want to chime in?
  4. #4  
    Quote Originally Posted by hoovs View Post
    If they haven't tested this in humans, it could be pretty far off. First, they need to evaluate the proper dosage for the trials. Then, presuming this is done in the US, they'll need to go through four phases of clinical trials. Each phase can take from one to several years. If the initial phases are very promising, they can apply for an Invesitgational Drug application and open it up to a wider group of patients.

    But it does sound promising.
    I agree with hooves on this, perhaps could be a useful therapy if brought forward into clinical trials. While some drug company will probably develop it (agents which affect caspase mediated apoptosis are pretty trendy right now in cancer research), the reason it does not sound like a magic bullet to me is that it merely inhibits tumor growth, but does not seem to induce regression.

    While we are on the subject of interesting science articles, this one seems to be getting a lot of attention this past week:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal...l/442858b.html

    Its a new method which may eventually allow use of embryonic stem cells without injuring the fetus. There is an interesting discussion about it in the link above.
  5. #5  
    Well..
    If the theory (or fact, I dunno) about cells producing a destructive enzyme and that it fails in cancerous cells, it could be achieved.

    There are distructive cells all over the body, like, there are cells that break bone tissue while others build bone tissue. This is cruical in repairing broken bones for example as the builders will over compensate (much like.. a scar for example) while the breakers try to reduce it to normal levels.

    But an enzyme produced by a cell rather than a distructive cell? Why not? The human body is a miracle on its own and is highly complex.

    Should that be true, its a matter of finding a way to make cancerous cells reproduce such enzymes or introducing that enzyme artificially to the body.

    Interesting, but very theoretical still.
  6. NRG
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       #6  
    Quote Originally Posted by cellmatrix View Post
    the reason it does not sound like a magic bullet to me is that it merely inhibits tumor growth, but does not seem to induce regression.
    Now why would this not cause regression? If the mutated cells destroy themselves, then why not the tumor?
  7. #7  
    I'd love to know more about this as well...
    A new Avatar to commemorate Silly Season.

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