Scientists May Have Found A Way To Fight Liver Cancer
Written by: Justin Cowart
In a new study, which was published in the Jan. 12, 2016 issue of CEll Metabolism, researchers have been able to find the ‘bad seeds’ of liver cancer and strongly believe that one day soon, they may be able to reprogram them to remain completely responsive to modern cancer treatments.
The researchers found out that the key to being able to disrupt chemoresistant stem cells – that tend to become liver tumors from multiplying – is to simply target the stem cell marker called NANOG, said associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, Keigo Machida, from the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
NANOG is a cell marker that is scarce in early-stage cancer, but becomes abundant in Stage III liver cancer. It strongly promotes the spread of cancer by rewiring the metabolism in the mitochondria, which is a cell’s energy factory.
“We identified the Achilles heel in cancer therapy. There are bad seeds in cancer. Even though we treat patients with chemotherapy, those bad seeds survive and force relapse.
“That’s why we would like to target the bad seeds in cancer to eradicate recurrence problems and metastasis, which is when the cancer spreads to other parts of the body.”
The study included different patient-derived stem cells along with hundreds of little mice that had liver tumors. The researchers strongly believe that it is the first scientific article to be able to identify the carcinogenic pathway of NANOG and to posit NANOG as a potential target that can eliminate the patient’s resistance to Sorafenib, which is the most common chemotherapy that is used on liver cancer patients.
Unfortunately in our modern society, liver cancer is on the rise. An estimated 24,550 different people died of this horrible disease in 2015 alone and only 17.2% of people who are diagnosed with liver cancer actually survive for five years or more, according to the National Cancer Institute.
A New Cancer Treatment Target
To be able to learn just how NANOG reprograms different stem cells that tend to foster tumor growth, the researchers examined proteins, the messenger RNA and general cell metabolism that reside within the liver, said lead bioinformatician at the USC Epigenome Center, Vasu Punj.
Punj goes on to say that,
“Mitochondria-metabolism targeted therapy in cancer is being increasingly recognized as a promising area for future development of new, personalized treatment strategies.
“If you reduce the cellular response to mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation-fatty acid oxidation molecules, NANOG will not be able to promote cancer progression. This will enable researchers to develop novel therapeutic strategies for that cancer.”
What NANOG Really Does
NANOG actually controls the expression of different genes that form ‘mitochondrial metabolic pathways’ or energy sources, for the stem cells that tend to turn into tumors. It reprograms cells and instead of using glucose as gasoline, they are ordered to use fatty acid.
Machida says that,
“If we shut down this alternative pathway, the liver cancer will become sensitized to chemotherapy again. In the future, we might be able to give liver cancer patients a shot that will infuse NANOG-targeted therapy into the bloodstream. Wherever blood circulates, we will be able to deliver new instructions to the bad seeds of cancer.”
I hope that we will soon see an end to cancer as a disease in our modern society. With newer and newer research being performed, I strongly believe that it is only a matter of time before we are able to at least be able to treat, if not eliminate, most diseases that end in death.
We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this topic in the comments below!
Justin Cowart is a writer and researcher that loves to learn more about health, life, consciousness and making the world a better place. He loves music, traveling, meditation, video games and spending time with family and friends. He believes in baby steps and lifestyle changes in order to live a full life. In 2014, he lost around 40lbs from baby steps and emotional detoxing.
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