Researchers at Florida State University (FSU) found that certain kinds of molecules, when exposed to light, have the potential to kill cancer cells without damaging the healthy ones. The researchers' method of killing cancer cells was to induce a type of cell death called apoptosis, in which a cell sustains so much damage that both strands of the cellular DNA are broken and the cell can no longer repair itself. "We have found that a group of cancer-killing molecules known as lysine conjugates can identify a damaged spot, or ‘cleavage,’ in a single strand of DNA and then induce cleavage on the DNA strand opposite the damage site," said Igor V. Alabugin, associate professor of chemistry biochemistry, FSU. "This ‘double cleavage’ of the DNA is very difficult for the cell to repair and typically leads to apoptosis."
An international research team, led by Yoram Palti at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, suggests that low-intensity electric fields can disrupt the division of cancer cells and slow the growth of brain tumors. The researchers used low-intensity alternating electric fields that jiggle electrically charged particles in cells back and forth hundreds of thousands of times per second in laboratory experiments. The study also involved a small human trial of 10 brain cancer patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). The researchers observed that the brain tumors in these patients progressed to advanced stages much slower than usual, and the patients also lived considerably longer with a median survival time of 62 weeks. This electric-field treatment poses little danger because it does not damage healthy brain cells. The researchers are now working on another human trial with a control group to investigate the possibility of combining the electric-field therapy with low-dose chemotherapy.
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