Friday, 26 Dec, 2008 Health & Fitness

A New Method To Fight Tumors Discovered


A tiny tube, installed on the way of the blood flow, can selectively choose tumor cells from it, give them the "die" command and then let them go back into the blood where they are destroyed. The discovery belongs to a group of scientists, led by Michael King from the University of Rochester.

American specialists have built and tested the model of the unusual blood filter, which, only by being settled into the human blood flow, cleans the organism from tumor cells spread by the same blood circuit.

This tiny tube has its inner surface, covered by a special variety of proteins.

The first ones, called selectins, represent proteins responsible for the selective catching of the cells from the blood circuit. There are several types of selectins, some of them are made only for binding tumor cells.

Tumor cells that are caught, move across the surface of the tube and meet the influence of the second protein, selected by King and his staff. This is the TRAIL protein (Tumor Necrosis Factor Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand), a factor of an induced apoptosis of the tumor (note: apoptosis – the genetically programmed death of a cell). This protein influences two "death receptors" on the surface of the cell, giving the last one a self-destruction command.

Then, the cell is released back into the blood, where it will be destroyed in a matter of a day or two. Another important moment of this invention is that the proteins, once having let go of the cell, are ready to catch another one. "And this is a lot more complicated than a simple filtration of the blood", King affirmed.

The authors of the device have tested it in laboratory conditions on tumor cells of the prostate and of the large intestine (however, the device can be used also for other types of tumor cells).

The experimented tube kills 30 percent of the tumor cells, without harming healthy cells. It is considered that the cleaning of the blood from a significant number of tumor cells "traveling" in the blood circuit gives the organism a greater chance to destroy all the remaining cells(with the help of additional methods of treatment).

This current work of King follows his previous work, in which the researcher studied not only the ability of specific proteins to bind tumor cells, but also their properties of binding other types of cells, depending on the goals of one or other implant.

Now King and his team affirm that the principle of the movement of the cells across the named proteins allows increasing the effectiveness of the system by 4 times compared to the scheme where cells and the proteins contact in just one point.

The details of this research can be found in the respective article in the journal "Biotechnology and Bioengineering". Its authors also say that more time is required before this method of treatment will be used in clinical testings. But the perspectives of such a filter are very promising, since it can allow the prevention of metastasis and, thus, increase the chances for survival of the patients with tumors.

Posted by summer_rain

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