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RNA-Loaded Nanoparticles Fight Cancer

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the hope-you-all-like-sousa dept.

Biotech 69

DirkDaring writes "It's been promised for years: that nanoparticles offer a treatment to many forms of cancer. Today, an important first step has been announced. In a new human trial, nanoparticles carrying RNA have successfully reached cancer cells and silenced the target gene. 'The researchers developed a nanoparticle carrying a molecular marker that binds to the surface of cancer cells, triggering the cells to absorb it. The siRNA carried within the particle was designed to silence a gene called ribonucleotide reductase M2 (RRM2), which regulates DNA synthesis and repair and is known to be an anticancer target. Because it was the first trial using targeted RNAi delivery for cancer, says Mark Davis, a professor of chemical engineering at Caltech and the study's lead author, "we wanted to choose a gene that was suspected to be hugely upregulated in a broad spectrum of cancers" in order to increase the likelihood of being able to observe the novel therapy's effect. The researchers analyzed biopsy samples from three melanoma patients in the trial who had received different doses of the therapy. They tracked the particles in the different samples, finding that the amounts they could see in the tumor cells correlated with the doses the patients received.'"

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what if it wins... (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | about 4 years ago | (#31572060)

...the cancer dies, but the body also?

Re:what if it wins... (4, Insightful)

gomiam (587421) | about 4 years ago | (#31572240)

Since the marker attaches to cancerous cells only, healthy ones should suffer no damage. Then again, I read the story above, so it's not like I'm specially insightful.

Re:what if it wins... (4, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#31572392)

The most interesting part here is not about directing damage, it is that this was a successful non-topical application of siRNAs. In most tests up to now, siRNAs have been injected directly into the target tissue. This study shows a delivery system that carries the siRNA specifically into targeted cells via the bloodstream. In the long run, this might be the key to target metastases however small they are and wherever they are.

Re:what if it wins... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31573462)

Okay, you have a marker on the surface of the cell. Doesn't that mean you win? Why not just attach some immune marker to it and have the cell eaten up? All this touchy-feely talking the cell into committing suicide all by it self - just kill it already, I don't care how!

Re:what if it wins... (1)

gomiam (587421) | about 4 years ago | (#31575786)

An interesting idea, but it requires developing anti-body targets that make the immune system react. What if it is the immune system that is affected? What if the immune system is so depressed it can react? Adding gene-knockoff RNA helps fight the cancer without relying on third parties. At least, that's what I think the scientists involved decided. Less steps, less risk of failure.

Interesting article (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#31572102)

I wonder if this technique could be used for other diseases, e.g. arthritis?

Re:Interesting article (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31572164)


Re:Interesting article (-1, Troll)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#31572244)

You must not be new here, as you obviously didn't RTFA.

Re:Interesting article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31573802)

You must not be new here, as you obviously didn't RTFA.

Someone doesn't RTFA...still no cure for canc-OHMYFUCKINGGODTHEYCUREDCANCER

Re:Interesting article (2, Insightful)

AlexBirch (1137019) | about 4 years ago | (#31573198)

HIV mutates very frequently, so it's difficult to design an siRNA reagent to target it effectively. Another hurdle is delivering the siRNA to the infected T cells.

Re:Interesting article (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31572348)

i think can be used for other diseases so long as we are able to isolate the gene that causes the disease. I would suggest looking at the Human Genome Project to see what genes have been mapped and isolated as the cuase of various diseases.

Re:Interesting article (1)

AlexBirch (1137019) | about 4 years ago | (#31573106)

This is a bit dated, Sirna [sirna.com] was acquired by Merck for this kind of technology over 2 years ago. Alnylam [alnylam.com] is yet another large player in this game.
Arthritis is a bit more difficult due to delivery issues and known pathways

Re:Interesting article (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | about 4 years ago | (#31574668)

This could be an especially attractive method of delivering treatment for rheumatoid arthritis if it could be made to work. As an example, among the current state of the art in rheumatoid arthritis treatment is rituximab. Rituximab is an engineered mouse/human chimeric monoclonal antibody that targets CD20, a protein unique to B-lymphocytes, whose overactivity is a major factor of RA. Because it is a monoclonal antibody, it is very expensive, and short-lived in the body. The nanoparticles used in this cancer study were made from starch and polyethylene glycol. All rituximab can really do to B cells is kill them, which gets the job done, but can leave the patient with serious immunological vulnerabilities. A more sophisticated treatment would be to use CD20-targeted nanoparticles to bind to B cells and deliver a package of siRNA that interferes selectively with the transcription/translation of genes involved only in the autoimmunity.

Re:Interesting article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31574864)

arthritis in particular is a really difficult disease. The pain can be broadly categorized as rheumatoid and osteo. Rheumatoid is a by-product of an auto-immune reaction. Osteo is more like mechanical wearing and stresses on the joints. Rheumatoid has been getting some really good medicines recently since we are getting better at manipulating the immune system. Osteo is very unlikely to be curable by anything like this. Or to put it as a car analogy you can't just update firmware to replace brake pads.

Re:Interesting article (1)

thechao (466986) | about 4 years ago | (#31575758)

Yes. There is a large focus on two different aspects in a lab I used to work with a few years ago:
(1) Retinopathies (problems of the eye);
(2) Preventative treatments for cancer.

Here are some links:
[1] http://inbt.jhu.edu/biosensor-targets-retina-cells/2006/11/15 [jhu.edu] -- a multilayer "machine" which executes a biochemical program;
[2] http://nanohub.org/resources/3541/download/2007.10.15-leary-nt501.pdf [nanohub.org] -- lecture notes on the state-of-the-art nano- magneto- and silicon particle drug delivery as of late 2007.

Re:Interesting article (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 4 years ago | (#31575944)

I wonder if this technique could be used for other diseases, e.g. arthritis?

It could be useful for other diseases in which a gene is known to be expressed that you don't want to be expressed. Whether there are known genes which are expressed with arthritis that cause the symptoms, I don't know. Whether this technique will be effective at delivering the RNAi to other cells using other receptors, I don't know, and I'm not sure anyone knows. I gather that they tried this first, they had to have tested this in mice first, I'd expect there would be data on knocking down genes in non-cancerous tissues.

Shorter answer: maybe, but using this to deliver the treatment to your knuckle cells to treat arthritis might not work, and for all I know, the RNAi treatment itself might not be viable for treating arthritis.

most isn't good enough (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31572284)

Cancer evolves and grows rapidly. Kill 90% of a tumor, and the 10% can grow to be a problem again.

Re:most isn't good enough (4, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#31572472)

That's the beauty of this technique. With other therapies like chemo, surgery, or radiation, there is damage to non-cancerous tissue, and those don't kill 100% of the cancer, either. With this you could theoretically continue treatment, as with traditional treatments you can't.

There is still the problem of diagnosing the cancer early enough; this wouln't have helped Linda. [slashdot.org]

Re:most isn't good enough (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#31572508)

Aside from oversaturating target cells with specific drugs, you would probably use a combination approach - use different surface markers to guide the nanoparticles and use different targets for the siRNAs, so that even with the high mutation rate of cancer cells, the population as whole can't escape.

Re:most isn't good enough (1)

chihowa (366380) | about 4 years ago | (#31575974)

... and those don't kill 100% of the cancer...

In this case, you're still only killing the cancer cells that a) express this particular biomarker and b) are capable of/"willing to" take these nanoparticles from the surface of the cell to the inside where they can do their thing.

There's still plenty of room here for treatment resistant cancer cells to survive or develop. RNAi is a great therapeutic approach, but it's no magic bullet. It is terribly attractive, though, because it's easier to develop RNAi that's targeted for specific diseases than it is to develop effective small molecule drugs. The big hurdle to date has been effective delivery of the RNAi. You can't exactly flood the body with it like most drugs. Of course, an effective delivery system like this can allow the use of powerful drugs without some of the horrible side effects.

Re:most isn't good enough (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31578578)

No, the point is cancer cells evolve faster than we can understand the proteins they express. The patient is welcome to continue treatment, but the RNA won't bind to the evolved cells (cell epitopes change), so the patient dies from cancer in the long run anyway. Knocking out 100% of the cancer isn't impossible, but it's not probable.

And if, for instance, the patient has brain cancer, it's probably going to be difficult continuously getting samples of the cancer so treatments can coevolve with the cancer. The immune system is good at evolving quickly, which is one of the reasons immunotherapy is so promising.

Unfortunately, as the patient ages, their immune system will become ever more ineffective for a number of reasons.

One way to get your head around all the problems with aging, and how to neutralize them, is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategies_for_Engineered_Negligible_Senescence

Unfortunately, the SENS way of dealing with cancer destroys every cell's ability to lengthen its own telomeres. That's fine for guaranteeing you won't develop cancer (now even your cancer cells can only divide a finite number of times) , but the patient should be ready for life-long stem cell infusions for the bone marrow, gut, and elsewhere. So perhaps if the disease doesn't kill the patient, the treatment will.

Great... not filtered out by the body (1)

Orga (1720130) | about 4 years ago | (#31572418)

From TFA: "researchers have struggled to design particles that carry their contents to target cells with enough specificity, or that don't cause toxicity or elicit an immune reaction from the body." So when can we: a. Make this create cancer, or simply destroy cells b. Add these particles to a cities water supply c. Alter a contagious host virus to create them.

Re:Great... not filtered out by the body (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#31572470)

If you just want to do damage, why would you need a cell-specific targeting system?

Re:Great... not filtered out by the body (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | about 4 years ago | (#31573408)

Because nuking enemy territory from space, while the only way to be sure, might be a bit obvious as to the source. Merely poisoning their water supply with a cancer-creating virus would be far less obvious.


Re:Great... not filtered out by the body (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 4 years ago | (#31573910)

This is getting a bit too... weird. Also, I'd like to stay off the no-fly list... However, let me say as much that I think this would be a classical case of overengineering for the stated goal. Besides - gene targeting of specific populations won't work with our current state of knowledge. Such groups are not identified by single genes, thankfully. And, anyway, as you said, you gotta be sure, so, the orbit it has to be.

What if cancer cells are a symptom? (2, Insightful)

Yaddoshi (997885) | about 4 years ago | (#31572548)

Maybe I'm going out on a limb here, since I practically no medical schooling, but there have been suggestions by certain medical professionals (names elude me at the moment) that cancer cells could be the body's final (and potentially fatal) attempt to correct other, seemingly unrelated health issues. This would also explain why cancer can return after it has gone into remission.

If so, while this technique would stop the cancer cells from spreading, it may not address the cause of the cancer. I suppose we'll find out if/once the treatment becomes mainstream.

Re:What if cancer cells are a symptom? (2, Insightful)

Orga (1720130) | about 4 years ago | (#31572724)

Cancer is simply a mistake in the copying process of cells. Typically this is brought on by aging, most old people have some cancer in them even if it doesn't end up being the thing that kills them. Since human reproduction occurs under 40 years or so cancer resistance is not something we've improved with evolution. If humans reproduced at the age of 10 we'd probably see cancers develop in our 20 and 30's. If humans reproduced in the 80-90's we wouldn't see cancers until we're in our 100's. It's simply a fact of our reproduction system and evolution that we've developed little reason to exist after our reproductive cycle has ended and therefore our bodies fail us.

Re:What if cancer cells are a symptom? (2, Insightful)

Orga (1720130) | about 4 years ago | (#31572758)

Actually I'll add to that and say that cancer could be seen as a benefit to our species. Having a faster reproductive rate increases the spread of our genes and therefore quickening our evolutionary rate as a species, in a world of limited resources it's best to kill off the resource consumers who can no longer produce offspring. Nature and evolution aren't here to benefit your grandparents... sorry.

Re:What if cancer cells are a symptom? (4, Insightful)

thms (1339227) | about 4 years ago | (#31572940)

But if you, as a grandparent, can ensure the survival of your children and grandchildren, then mutations which elongate life make sense again, especially for species that rely on learned behaviour more than instincts.

As for cancer, I still assume that the cancer rate is coupled with the general mutation rate. If your species becomes too perfect in copying it's genes then it might be cancer-proof. But that also means that no changes occur in the germ line - you just became a static species! That mean you will probably die out because everyone else around you still evolves (the Red Queen's race). To summarize: Cancer and evolution have the same molecular basis! I wonder how this stabilized in living fossils....

Cancer cells, normal cells, & TELOMERES... apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31575902)

"then mutations which elongate life make sense again" - by thms (1339227) on Monday March 22, @02:33PM (#31572940)

Then, that would mean doing a LOT of what cancer does - which is increase the "telomere" (what controls human cell replication, to around an average (in MOST folks), 50 or so cell replications/divisions).

IIRC, from GENETICS class, that's all happening during by mitochondrial splitting of a cell, & the later/next additional ribosomal activities during cellular "copies"/division tRNA to mRNA (transfer to messenger), which in & of itself, has 'errors' (of a sort, it changes combinations of AU & CG possibles)!

(Because some of the A::T C:::G combinations in bases can vary (Combinations of AT & CG are the common double-stranded DNA bases that get torn in 1/2 by helicase enzyme (or is it lipase, correct me here if I am off)).

So, as the processing of messenger single stranded mRNA combinations of CODONS get done for ribosomal processing later, using combinations of AU & CG? You get "mutations" anyhow, but, ones that STILL WORK OK!

(I.E.-> Some of these AU/CG combos vary anyhow, but, can still function the same, but, via diff. mixtures - Which probably a GOOD PART of what are what give us our individual Characteristics/Alleles (e.g. being Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine (here is what sickle cell messes up on, for example, subbing in something OTHER THAN VALINE where it should be), Arginine, Proline, Threonine, Alanine, Glycine)

The rest of the possible AU/CG combos though? They have RESTRICTED #'s of possible combinations though (those being Phenylalanine, Leucine, Tyrosine, Histidine, Glutamine, Asparagine, Lysine, Aspartic acid, Glutamic acid, Serine, Cysteine, Arginine, & Trytophan (this being the "stop base" iirc))).

Cancer, in case you are NOT aware of it? Is literally UNRESTRICTED cellular growth (which means it OBVIOUSLY "plays with" & EXTENDS, the telomere, extending them BEYOND 50 replications afaik...).

" Cancer and evolution have the same molecular basis!" - by thms (1339227) on Monday March 22, @02:33PM (#31572940)

Well, again, EXCEPT that NORMAL CELLS only replicate themselves around 50 or so times... cancer extends that! Immortality & cancer are probably related here, more than anything. I think that IF we start "playing with telomeres"? We'll be in serious trouble then... sure, some folks actually DO "rebuild their telomeres", but not unrestrictedly (just more than 50 divisions, there are cases of folks like that).


Re:Cancer cells, normal cells, & TELOMERES... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31576820)

Whoa, wait, what? Reduce your caffeine intake is the first thing I would say. Also, I think everybody knows their Genetics already, but thanks anyhow :). And I think that that telomere thing happens anyhow because of self-selection. Can't be cancer without it! Also, cancer happens in other, not so longlived animals.

Read on TELOMERES & CANCER: & eat your b.s (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31577178)

Watch what YOU say is the first thing I'd have to say in response then, because you ought to take a read on the relationship between telomeres and cancer pal:

"Also, I think everybody knows their Genetics already, but thanks anyhow :)" - by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, @06:49PM (#31576820)

Well, apparently YOU DO NOT, based on your reply, and wisecracks (poor excuse for hiding your ignorance that, by the by)... "EVERYBODY", is a BIG word, and you're only proving your not part of that "Everybody" you speak of.


"And I think that that telomere thing happens anyhow because of self-selection." - by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, @06:49PM (#31576820)

Telomeres are basically "stop buffers" (like an "EOF" marker in files in computers essentially)... each time a cell replicates? A bit of them GENERALLY get "broken off", acting more or less as a cell division counter (until the end of it, then the cell dies).


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telomere [wikipedia.org]



"Telomeres protect a cell's chromosomes from fusing with each other or rearranging--abnormalities which can lead to cancer--and so cells are normally destroyed when their telomeres are consumed. Most cancers are the result of "immortal" cells which have ways of evading this programmed destruction."


"Can't be cancer without it! Also, cancer happens in other, not so longlived animals." - by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, @06:49PM (#31576820)

You don't GET IT, do you? CANCER ALTERS TELOMERES, literally creating unrestricted cellular growth (more-or-less, producing an "immortal cell")... man, I hate to say this, but you seem pretty clueless here actually!


"Whoa, wait, what? Reduce your caffeine intake is the first thing I would say." - by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, @06:49PM (#31576820)

Well, then the LAST THING I will say to YOU, is learn before you speak. See the above in regards to that much.

(Based on your replies, You definitely do not seem to be part of that "everybody" you speak of if you doubted the connection I noted between cancer and telomeres in DNA).


P.S.=> Oh, I get it - you're just another "A/C Troll", trying to get my goat - funniest part is, all you did was make yourself look the FOOL... lol! apk

Re:Cancer cells, normal cells, & TELOMERES... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31582420)

You promised you'd left Slashdot and would no longer be posting your cretinous comments you fucking retard.

I knew it was too good to be true. I hope your telomeres get overwritten soon.

LOL, nothing like some CHUMP onlnie stalker, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31582546)

See subject-line above, & this reply (in like tone to you, ignoramus):

Dearest Online Psycho-Stalker Chump:

"You promised you'd left Slashdot and would no longer be posting your cretinous comments you fucking retard." - by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, @09:24AM (#31582420)

I left, but I never said for how long did I? Too bad for you, eh?? lmao...


"I knew it was too good to be true. I hope your telomeres get overwritten soon." - by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, @09:24AM (#31582420)

If they did, I could just come back in here, as many times as I like mind you (no stupid "AC restriction" stalls me, ever - I have VERY FAST ways (like 15 seconds worth) around such, well, "puny restrictions") & write them again... it's "too, Too, TOO EASY!!!" (lol).

(Besides: Is it my fault you're nothing but an ignorant chump? No!)


P.S.=> Too bad for you, eh? You're NOTHING but another "A/C stalker troll", & nothing more... dwell is your stupidity chump! apk

Re:LOL, nothing like some CHUMP onlnie stalker, eh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31582706)

So, do you actually realise that you're a total dick?

Are you aware? If not, how could you not know? Do you think you're actually educating people when you post your unreadable garbage?

Seriously, I can't imagine what an overbearing, irritating, self-important person you must be in real life. So proud of your meagre accomplishments, so desperate for the world to see your startling intellect, yet so deluded that you can't see that you're just a stupid, irritating dick.

Name tossing, the sure sign of "VICTORY" (not) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31583134)

"So, do you actually realise that you're a total dick?" - by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, @09:41AM (#31582706)

The above quote is a testament to those that put the "COWARD" in AC... lmao! Additionally? Look whose talking - my fav. "AC online psycho stalker troll", lmao! Yes... lol, that name tossing on your part surely indicates you have "won" (not) here in debate, and surely is indicative of your education in this science (genetics) also (not)... you are HILIARIOUSLY pitiful.


"Do you think you're actually educating people when you post your unreadable garbage?" - by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, @09:41AM (#31582706)

Apparently I am: As evidenced by the fact that YOU have no REAL INPUT here & that you are essentially an ignoramus on this topic... You are the expert alright - Only at trolling online stalking b.s. - pitiful! Why don't you educate yourself, & get back to us, hmmm?


P.S.=> Troll, please - go on, keep up your b.s. - that'd be FINE by me, so please: DO keep up "the great work" (not)... apk

Re:Name tossing, the sure sign of "VICTORY" (not) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31583340)

Actually, I consider myself to be throwing myself on the grenade of your idiocy and saving others.

By hopefully wasting some of your time replying to me you aren't posting more tripe and pissing off other people.

I strongly suspect that you aren't educated in genetics or you'd be doing something in that field instead of knocking out shitty shareware apps and crying that people aren't appreciating your incredible windows knowledge.

Ah, nothing like another ignorant off topic troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31583478)

What was wrong on his post on telemeres then? You appear to be the idiot here, in your trolling, your being off topic and your name calling. You only serve to prove his point that you have some sort of mental difficulties. Have you also considered the fact that he may derive enjoyment from watching you make an off topic trolling fool of yourself, and seeing you waste your time in doing so as well?

Re:Ah, nothing like another ignorant off topic tro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31584204)

... except you started it. So... you spend time constructing strangely formatted lumps of cut and paste text, interspersed with your crazy dribblings to, what? Get people like me to tell you what an asshole you are?

If so, nice one buddy! You're an asshole!

Your first & subsequent posts indicate otherwi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31584464)

http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1591182&cid=31582420 [slashdot.org]

Read 'em & weep people... to those reading: This troll regularly amuses me, to NO end, & I do take pleasure in making him look the futher trolling fool is all.

Witness this "further display of 'superior intellect' (not)" on his part:

"Get people like me to tell you what an asshole you are? If so, nice one buddy! You're an asshole!" - by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, @11:23AM (#31584204)

Now, whose fault is it, if you demonstrate such "intellectual prowess" (lol, not) in your use of profanities, whilst you lose badly being the off topic trash mouthed troll you are?


P.S.=> Nicest part, is this: You'll doubtless exhaust your 10 posts per day limit, as AC, & then? Then I'll just run roughshod over you, because you'll have to use your registered account then (LOL, boy, & then are YOU in for a trolling surprise)... lol! Me? I can outpost registered users, because the "AC 10 posts per day limit"? Do NOT apply here... I beat that, with ease! apk

Re:Your first & subsequent posts indicate othe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31584694)

You're so clever APK! How could you ever get around an IP restriction?

Wait, who on here doesn't have plenty of connected machines under their control that they could use? Not many.


Wrong again (single machine only), lol... apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31584770)

See subject-line above, & realize this: You're WRONG as per usual!

(See - For me? It's "too, Too, TOO EASY"... unlike for yourself! I don't use multiple rigs to pull off beating the AC restriction... lol!)

Man, I knew you were dull, but how dull can you be? Please - IF you're going to troll me, off topic as usual?? Learn a bit of what you speak of, just like your ignorance on genetics here also, you demonstrate a dull mastery of things "IP" as well.


P.S.=> Why don't you try to learn something about a topic, instead of being a profane off topic troll? Perhaps I am expecting too much, but then... you wouldn't be the same "off topic online psycho stalker troll" of mine then, would you? LOL... apk

Re:What if cancer cells are a symptom? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 4 years ago | (#31593312)

You seem to ignore radiation, Aspartame, pollution/smog. smoking, and a billion other things.

Re:What if cancer cells are a symptom? pseudosci.! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31572768)

have been suggestions [..] certain medical professionals [..] could be

That are too many weasel words, and I raise a pseudo science alert! While I don't claim to know better, taking a potshot at conventional medicine with a very vague concept is not helpful.

Also, cancer cells are no longer within the normal parameters of human cells and mutate wildly, please suggest how they could be in any way helpful.

Re:What if cancer cells are a symptom? (3, Interesting)

Tiger4 (840741) | about 4 years ago | (#31572784)

The current thinking on cancer is that it can be caused by quite a lot of things. Radiation (e.g. xrays or sunlight), chemicals (e.g. cigarette smoke, solvents, adhesives, fuels, a whole library of other industrial chemicals, and even stuff in your last soda pop), viruses (e.g. cervical cancer), or just plain bad luck (mutation of fragile genetics).

Why you body might kick off a cancer to prevent something else is kind of mind boggling. Certainly it might be *possible* that something wacky like that could happen, but the evolutionary indicators run strongly against it. The "something else" would have to be even worse than trying to fight the cancer with all-natural means, and what in hell could that be?

Re:What if cancer cells are a symptom? (4, Funny)

thms (1339227) | about 4 years ago | (#31573022)

Certainly it might be *possible* [...]

Yes, as a true scientist that is the correct answer, and here lies the problem: This non-denial gives this idea all the credibility it needs to run off as pseudo science. And once again the following holds:

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

Re:What if cancer cells are a symptom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31573120)

I really need to take a break from work. I read that as suckers instead of sure. *starts planning vaction now*

Re:What if cancer cells are a symptom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31573156)

since I practically no medical schooling,

Or English schooling, Tonto.

Re:What if cancer cells are a symptom? (1)

Ledgem (801924) | about 4 years ago | (#31579372)

The reason why many cancers return after their initial removal has to do with cancer cell types. Previously it was believed that cancer was cancer and all cells were the same, but it is now believed that there are "cancer stem cells." These are cells that bud off into the fast-growing cells that make up tumors, but by comparison the stem cells are slow-dividing and may not fully resemble the tumor cells.

The reason why this is important is because many therapies are designed to target fast-dividing cells. Cells are most vulnerable to treatments (whether chemical or radiation) when they're actively replicating. Chemotherapy does a number on your entire body, but it hits the cancer cells a bit harder because they're dividing even faster. However, even if you clear out a tumor, remission may still occur if the cancer stem cells weren't taken out, as well. And due to their slow-dividing nature, many therapies that we're currently utilizing are likely missing them.

I've never heard of the theory that you mentioned. It seems very unlikely that cancers are intentionally brought about by the body, given that we have essentially no examples of cancers being beneficial, and from what we know of cellular biology there are many, many factors designed to guard against cells becoming cancerous.

Re:What if cancer cells are a symptom? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 4 years ago | (#31593296)

What the hell? OF COURSE cancer cells are a symptom!
Yes, ever if your doctor lies to you by telling you something different.

The original cause is ALWAYS either generic, or ultimately coming from the outside. That’s it. Period.
Radiation causes cancer. Aspartame causes cancer. A dirty environment (smog) causes cancer. Smoking causes cancer. And so on.
Cancer is a result of something else. Always.

It’s a shame that nowadays even a doc will tell you with a straight face, that some organ is the cause. As if it were the ultimate cause. They will even call the headache the cause, when you bang your head against a wall all day long. But they will not tell you to do that. (Won’t continue making them any money, now would it?)

I Am Legend (4, Funny)

lymond01 (314120) | about 4 years ago | (#31572604)

TV Personality: And how many people have you treated so far?
Dr. Alice Krippin: Well, we've had ten thousand and nine clinical trials in humans so far.
TV Personality: And how many are cancer-free?
Dr. Alice Krippin: Ten thousand and nine.
TV Personality: So you have actually cured cancer.
Dr. Alice Krippin: Yes, yes... yes, we have.

Cue destruction of humanity by albino gymnasts.

Re:I Am Legend (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31572692)

Naa that will take to long. 2012 is MUCH closer.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31572812)

Cue destruction of humanity by albino gymnasts.

Please, for the love of God, someone make a gay zombie horror flick.

It's not what you think!

Something doesn't add up here. (1)

Schickeneder (1454639) | about 4 years ago | (#31572930)

So they say this has the ability to silence genes. Yet the article says the treatment accomplished its purpose of splicing mRNA. Splicing mRNA!=gene silencing. This would mean this is a dose-dependent, reversible effect and not a permanent treatment. That makes it sound like someone would have to continually be on the drugs and when they stopped, then the effect would disappear and everything would return to pre-treatment conditions. During that time what's to stop the cancer from mutating and losing or altering those specific receptors.

I may have to actually read the primary literature, the summary article did a poor job of explaining any of this.

Re:Something doesn't add up here. (1)

Orga (1720130) | about 4 years ago | (#31573208)

Helllllo for profit healthcare. Nobody wants to cure you, they just want to be able to treat you for longer.

Re:Something doesn't add up here. (4, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | about 4 years ago | (#31573702)

Well, yes and no. You are absolutely right in that this isn't a permanent effect, in the sense that the DNA of the cancer cells is not altered at all. RNA interference is like putting a defender in the game to intercept a pass; if the defender leaves the field, the receiver will be open again. Translation of the ribonucleotide reductase gene will only be blocked as long as the interfering RNA is there to block the messenger RNA. However, ribonucleotide reductase is incredibly important; it's the enzyme that tears a hydroxyl group off of ribonucleotides and makes them deoxyribonucleotides. A cell cannot make DNA without it. The notion is that cancer cells being treated with RNAi will die during the course of treatment, with no way to replace them. If you get all the cancer, there is no way for it to "bounce back," and if you miss some, then at least progression has been seriously slowed.

On the point of receptors, that raises an interesting point. The nanoparticles used in this experiment target transferrin receptor, a cell surface receptor for the iron-carrying protein transferrin. Transferrin is highly upregulated in cancer cells because iron is required by many enzymes important to cell division (including ribonucleotide reductase, incidentally). Because it is so vital, cancer cells probably cannot just stop making transferrin. Developing a mutant form of transferrin that the nanoparticles cannot adhere to is a possibility, but there'd be a very narrow window of success (success from the cancer's POV). After all, cancer develops a transferrin receptor because it needs to get iron from transferrin- the same transferrin floating in your bloodstream your healthy cells uses. So whatever stealth transferrin receptor cancer cells come up to hide from nanoparticles still has to be compatible with real transferrin, or the cancer cells will be unable to divide.

Re:Something doesn't add up here. (1)

Schickeneder (1454639) | about 4 years ago | (#31576156)

That was very helpful. Now I have a few more questions.

If the transferrin receptor is the target, how does this make it "cancer-specific"? Is this an abnormal receptor that would not be present in other cells? Or does this approach rely on the target selectively binding to the cancer cells because of the higher concentraiton of these receptors? If that's the case wouldn't we expect to see "collateral" damage (other cells)?

Re:Something doesn't add up here. (1)

aukset (889860) | about 4 years ago | (#31576616)

There are two parts to this:

1) Get the RNA into the cell in the first place. Anything you want to get into a cell has to pass through the cell membrane, and if the molecule is any larger than H2O, the only way to do that is with a transport mechanism you would find within the cell membrane. In this case, the transferrin receptor that transports Fe from the bloodstream to the interior of the cell.

2) Cause the transcription interference in the DNA itself, as described by the GP. At this point, the transferrin receptor is no longer at issue. While normal cells will definitely uptake the RNA, the idea is that normal cells won't be affected by it because it is designed to interfere only with RRM2, a cancerous mutation.

Gold nanorods (2, Funny)

Adaeniel (1315637) | about 4 years ago | (#31573426)

Gold nanorods have also shown promise for the destruction of cancer cells. The really neat thing about them is that their absorption is tunable based on their size. In turn, they can be tuned to absorb in the near-infrared spectrum. The nanorods are then irradiated with near-infrared radiation, producing heat. This burns away cancer cells locally. There is still debate related to cell death caused by uptake of gold nanorods/nanoparticles.

In summary, we will hopefully be able to pew-pew-pew cancer to death with little damage to other cells. Yes, this whole post is constructed in order to use pew-pew-pew in a science related message.

Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31573494)

I don't know what else to say except, holy shit!

I am Legend, anyone? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31573746)

somehow this reminds me of I Am Lengend. How long till this genetic "twiddling" causes a major catastrophe?

Vitamin D, natural foods, fasting, exercise.. (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 4 years ago | (#31577354)

Most cancer can be prevented or sometimes cured with the right amount of vitamin D3 (5000 IU daily as a base for most adults with a few exceptions, but you need a blood test periodically to be sure), a diet of mostly organic natural foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables), occasional fasting, and moderate exercise -- along with quitting smoking and some other lifestyle changes, and living in a cleaner environment (especially clean water), and some positive emotions, spirituality, and community helps too. These things (especially the right amount of vitamin D) will also sometimes prevent or sometimes cure a good amount of the many other chronic diseases of our modern society as well like heart disease, diabetes, depression, -- and maybe even autism which may result in part from inadequate vitamin D by parents before conception, during pregnancy, and while nursing (as dermatologists have told us all to fear the sun and we also live indoors more at screens). For references to all this, see:
    Vitamin D:
    http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/cancerMain.shtml [vitamindcouncil.org]
    http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/treatment.shtml [vitamindcouncil.org]
    http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/newsletter/new-harvard-paper-on-autism.shtml [vitamindcouncil.org]
    http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/newsletter/2008-october.shtml [vitamindcouncil.org]
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/sardi/sardi111.html [lewrockwell.com]
    Fasting and better diet:
    http://www.healthpromoting.com/Articles/articles/PleasureTrap.htm [healthpromoting.com]
    http://www.amazon.com/Pleasure-Trap-Mastering-Undermines-Happiness/dp/1570671508 [amazon.com]
    http://www.amazon.com/Supernormal-Stimuli-Overran-Evolutionary-Purpose/dp/039306848X [amazon.com]
    http://books.google.com/books?id=nRurn6C142YC [google.com]
    Lifestyle and cancer:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elaine-schattner/we-are-all-fat-and-have-c_b_506247.html [huffingtonpost.com]
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204251404574342170072865070.html [wsj.com]
    http://www.letsmove.gov/ [letsmove.gov]
    Community infrastructure:
    http://www.bluezones.com/makeover-about [bluezones.com]
    Positive emotions, community, and spirituality:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=RKZreNYKNHQC [google.com]
    http://books.google.com/books?id=bCuC2H-6k_8C [google.com]

Magic bullets like this RNA-loaded nanoparticle stuff are potentially great (if they have no side effects), but how about just encouraging (and making easy) the simple things first?

We don't have to wait for magic bullets to cure most ill health. Why not put a few trillion US dollars into these things? It would be enormously cost effective. One link above suggests curing vitamin D deficiency alone in Western Europe would save US$4.4 trillion dollars in health care expense over a decade (the USA might see a comparable amount in savings). Of course, in our current economic and sick care system, curing vitamin D deficiency would be madness, because there is only significant profit in endless suffering and endless treatments; there is very little profit in cures. And insurance companies skim a percentage off the top, so, the sicker people are, the higher premiums eventually go, and the more they get. And how would doctors pay back huge loans if old doctors lived longer and practiced longer, and there were less obese cancerous sickly patients? So, where is the drug company rep for sunshine? Who is there to lobby for fasting while drinking only pure water? And so on... There are groups here and there, but they don't have the big bucks.

By the way, the biggest problem with the recent health care reform (which is really sick care insurance reform) is that it addresses none of these things. :-( Reading the above links and acting on them might add many healthy, happy, and active years to your life and maybe the lives of your family, friends, and neighbors... :-)

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