Researchers from the United States have discovered facts that could help in the fight against cancer.
Scientists from the University of Illinois, Seoul National University, and the National Center for Toxicological Research, have found a method to compel cancer cells into self-destruction. Most living cells contain a protein called procaspase-3. When it is activated, it changes into the enzyme caspase-3 and initiates programmed cell death. This process is called apoptosis. Cancer cells are able to evade this death and grow into tumors because in them, the signaling pathway to procaspase-3 is broken. The researchers had to screen more than 20,000 compounds before zeroing in on procaspase activating compound one (PAC-1). When tested in cell cultures and three mouse models of cancer, it was found that this compound had the ability to induce apoptosis. The innovative method could provide an effective personalized anti-cancer therapy.
Meanwhile, researchers from the Cedars-Sinai's Women's Cancer Research Institute have identified the weight of the patient as an independent factor in the progression of ovarian cancer and overall survival. In order to find a connection between obesity, ovarian cancer, tumor biology and outcome, lead investigator Andrew Li, MD, and colleagues scrutinized data from 216 patients with epithelial ovarian cancer. It was found that 29 per cent of the obese women had localized disease while only 10 per cent of the ideal-weight women had it. Also, the cellular characteristics of the tumors found in the two groups appeared to be dissimilar. The study thus suggests that fat tissue excretes a hormone or protein that causes ovarian cancer cells to grow more aggressively. The researchers now hope to establish the exact biological mechanisms that influence tumor growth in ovarian cancer.
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