Researchers Find Method To Trick Treatment-Resistant Cancer Cells
Autophagy, or self-eating, is a natural cell defense, one that can be a healthy response to stress by a cell, for it allows the cell to become dormant for awhile until it recovers from whatever shocked it. But we don't want cancer cells to recover and come back even stronger and more resistant than before; that's what happens with some cancer cells that are resistant to cancer therapies.
Researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas conducted experiments, published in the journal Cell Reports, that attempted to interrupt the hormone prolactin, an autophagy instigator particularly found in gynocological cancer cells. They identified a variant of prolactin, G129R, that interferes with the connection between prolactin and its receptors and they injected it into mice that contained human variants of ovarian cancer.
The researchers' strategies were effective at reducing the cancer tumors, as witnessed histologically and by 3D imaging which showed that the treated cells had large numbers of cavities caused by autophagy. In fact, after 28 days of treatment with G129R, the tumor weights fell by 50 percent in the mice that had either type of ovarian cancer. When a commonly used taxane-based chemotherapy agent, paclitaxel, was added to the protocol, tumor weights were cut to 90 percent.
"Our findings provide a clinical rationale for blocking prolactin and its receptor and for using prolonged autophagy as an alternative strategy for treating cancers," said Yunfei Wen, first author of the study and instructor of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Texas Medical School.
Perhaps the best news is that the mice did not suffer from this
treatment. They showed no signs of toxicity in the liver, spleen, or
kidneys, and showed normal blood counts and maintained their weights.