Salk Scientists Discover Chemotherapy Pathway
Monday, March 12, 2012
Aired 3/13/12 on KPBS News.
New findings could lead to cancer treatment with a cocktail of medicines rather than massive doses of traditional chemotherapy.
Salk scientists have made a discovery that may make the treatment of cancer more effective. The researchers say they've found the molecular pathway that shows how chemotherapy drugs work. That may make it possible to treat cancer with a cocktail of medicines rather than just the massive doses of poison involved in chemotherapy.
Jan Karlseder and Makoto Hayashi found that chemotherapy drugs can more specifically target cancer cells, killing them more effectively. They determined that cancer drugs damage the telomere, or chromosome cap. This sends out a stress response that kills the cell.
There is a category of drugs that target stress response. The hypothesis is that these drugs could be utilized in conjunction with much smaller doses of traditional chemotherapy.
"Basically, you're hitting the same cell from two different directions. And hopefully that will increase the chance of killing all of the cancer cells," said Karlseder.
Testing is under way to discover if this would minimize the side effects of chemotherapy while increasing the effectiveness of cancer treatment. The potential treatment is still in its research stage.