Cancer Treatment: Cancer patients die from uncontrolled growth, which is caused by dangerous chemicals. What if scientists could use these molecules in a smart way to dance a macabre tango with other molecules that would cause cancer cells to kill themselves? A Stanford developmental scientist named Dr. Gerald Crabtree had this idea while he was walking in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Dr. Crabtree was so excited about the idea’s possibilities that he ran home and started making a plan to make it happen. After years of hard work, that important realization is celebrated in a major article in Nature. The brave Dr. Crabtree, his respected colleague Nathanael S. Gray, a professor of chemical and system biology at Stanford, and their other accomplished peers talk about their big discovery, which could lead to new ways to treat cancer.
Jason Gestwicki, a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at UCSF, said, “This discovery is so bold that it’s amazing.” “It turns cancer treatment into a weapon that can kill it, like turning a vitamin into a poison that kills.”
Their bold plan to beat cancer is what makes them unique. In their risky lab tests, they made molecules that looked like dumbbells to link BCL6, a nasty mutant protein that the cancer needs to grow and stay alive, to a common cellular protein that controls gene activation.
This incredible combination goes against nature. BCL6 directs one end of the dumbbell to find the cell-death genes in the DNA of all cells to start a process that only happens to cells that are no longer needed. BCL6 cleverly turns off these genes that cause cells to die. This makes diffuse large B-cell lymphoma cells almost impossible to kill.
The normal protein at the end of this dumbbell turns on the cell-death genes when it gets close to them. In contrast to more complex biological processes, this sad firing of cell-death genes causes a disaster that can’t be fixed.
Their risky plan could work better than standard drugs at stopping all BCL6 molecules. Their mixture, which is in the shape of a dumbbell, kills cancer by rearranging a small number of BCL6 molecules.
This new way of thinking could be used to treat half of all cancers that have changes that cause abnormal growth. The accuracy of the treatment depends on how the proteins in cancer cells have changed, which may spare healthy cells.
Dr. Crabtree pointed out that the achievement was made possible by two big steps forward. First, the finding of “driver genes,” which are a small group of a few hundred genes whose changes help cancer grow and spread. Second, the processes of cell death, which get rid of rogue cells. Every day, these things kill off 60 billion cells.
They wanted to bring together the pathways that cause cancer cells to grow and the hidden processes that kill cells.
As their combination molecule moved into the DNA of a cell, its hot touch woke up dormant cell-death genes and made a lot of noise in the cell. Dr. Staudt was amazed by the change. “The cell has never seen anything like this before,” he said.
He said, “BCL6 is the glue that holds these cancer cells together.” If you stop it from doing its job, the cell will lose its identity and go into self-defense mode, which means it will accept its own death.
“People are a long way from mice,” Dr. Staudt said, even though the results with mice were hopeful. A treatment that can be used in therapy is still hard to find and has many surprises along the way.
Stuart L. Schreiber, who teaches chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard and used to work with Dr. Crabtree, warned against getting too excited. While praising Dr. Crabtree’s creativity and promise, he argues that this is still a long way from a solution and needs scientific rigor and uncharted territory.
Our Reader’s Queries
Can you live 20 years after cancer?
Roughly 67% of people who have battled cancer are still kicking after at least 5 years post-diagnosis. And impressively, about 18% of these resilient individuals are still thriving a whopping 20 years post-diagnosis. These figures highlight the incredible strength and perseverance of cancer survivors who continue to defy the odds and live their lives to the fullest.
What are the 3 main treatments for cancer?
Common Cancer Treatments
Surgery: Doctors remove cancerous tissue through an operation.
Chemotherapy: Medicines are used to shrink or eliminate unseen cancer cells.
Radiation therapy: High-energy rays, like X-rays, are employed to destroy cancer cells.
What do cancer survivors struggle with?
Cancer survivors often face tough psychosocial challenges like depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms, fear of cancer coming back, and cancer-related distress. But they can also experience positive impacts like resilience and posttraumatic growth [PTG], which can help lessen these concerns.
Does life go back to normal after cancer?
After treatment, many people hope to go back to normal life. Others view their diagnosis as a chance to make changes. It’s common for cancer survivors to discover a new way of living, known as finding a new normal. This adjustment can take a long time, maybe even months or years.