Tuesday September 17, 2019

Subjecting Cancer Cells to Microgravity Results in Formation of Giant Cancer Cells with Stem Cell Properties

Stem cells are difficult to isolate and grow

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Cancer Cells, Microgravity, Stem Cell
In a statement issued here on Tuesday, IIT-M said these cells can conceivably be used for cancer research and drug development. Pixabay

 Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) have found that subjecting cancer cells to microgravity results in the formation of giant cancer cells with stem cell properties.

In a statement issued here on Tuesday, IIT-M said these cells can conceivably be used for cancer research and drug development.

Stem cells are difficult to isolate and grow. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) generally make up just one per cent to three per cent of all cells in a tumour.

Research is being conducted all over the world to extract and culture CSCs for cancer understanding and drug development, the statement said.

Cancer Cells, Microgravity, Stem Cell
Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) have found that subjecting cancer cells to microgravity results in the formation of giant cancer cells with stem cell properties. Pixabay

The research was led by Professor Rama S. Verma of the Stem Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory, Bhupat, and Jyoti Mehta School of Biosciences, Department of Biotechnology, IIT-M.

“We have shown that simulated microgravity can be used for development of stem cell structures for drug testing, instead of animal models. CSCs are important in cancer research because they not only instigate formation of tumours, but are also involved in recurrence of tumours after cancer treatment,” Verma was quoted as saying in the statement.

He said the stem cells obtained using microgravity can also be used to understand the nature of the cancer cells, their proliferation and cell death pathways, which in turn can help in identification of target zones for drug development.

In an earlier study, the IIT Madras team had found that colorectal cancer cells died under simulated microgravity but once the microgravity condition was removed, they resurrected.

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This meant that while microgravity conditions destroyed full-grown cancer cells, they must have allowed stem cells to live, or perhaps converted the cancer cells to stem cell-like forms.

“Either way, these stem cells can be used for cancer research and drug development,” said Verma. (IANS)

Next Story

Researchers Find Way to Make Cancer Cells Self-destruct

It also shows that ATF4 turns on the genes MYC needs for growth and also controls the rate at which cells make specific proteins called 4E-BP

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Cancer, Patients, Invasive
Traditional treatments often include chemotherapy or radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Pixabay

In a new hope for cancer patients, researchers have found a way to cause some cancer cells to self-destruct.

The research team has identified a new pathway that works as a partner to a gene called MYC which controls normal cell growth, but when it is mutated or amplified in cancer, it sets off a chain reaction that helps tumours grow uncontrollably.

The pathway involves a protein called ATF4, and when it’s blocked, it can cause cancer cells to produce too much protein and die.

Published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, the study done on mice points the way towards a new therapeutic approach as inhibitors that can block synthesis of ATF4 already exist.

Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

“What we’ve learned is that we need to go further downstream to block tumour growth in a way that cancer cells can’t easily escape, and our study identifies the target to do just that,” said Constantinos Koumenis, Professor at the University of California.

According to researchers, this finding shows the alternative approach is to target ATF4 itself, since it’s the point where both signal pathways converge, meaning there’s less redundancy built in to allow cancer to survive.

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It also shows that ATF4 turns on the genes MYC needs for growth and also controls the rate at which cells make specific proteins called 4E-BP.

This study also found that when tumours in humans are driven by MYC, ATF4 and its protein partner 4E-BP are also overly expressed, which is further evidence that these findings may point to an approach that could work for humans. (IANS)