Friday, July 06, 2007

Fat Kills Cancer?

The Doctor says: "Nearly everyone has some fat tissue they can spare”. It turns out that adipose tissue is an excellent source of adult stem cells of mesodermal origin and Slovakian researchers are devising ways to alter these cells to target early stage cancers.

Fat Kills Cancer: Mesenchymal stem cells help repair damaged tissue and organs by renewing injured cells. They are also found in the mass of normal cells that mix with cancer cells to make up a solid tumor. Researchers believe mesenchymal stem cells "see" a tumor as a damaged organ and migrate to it, and so might be utilized as a "vehicle" for treatment that can find both primary tumors and small metastases. These stem cells also have some plasticity, which means they can be converted by the micro environment of a given tissue into specialized cells.

They expanded the number of mesenchymal stem cells in the laboratory and then used a retrovirus vector to insert the gene cytosine deaminase into the cell. This gene can convert a less toxic drug, 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC), to 5-FU inside the stem cells, and the chemotherapy can then seep out into the tumor, producing a lethal by-stander effect.

It is an interesting trick with some success in experiments on mice. The idea being the really toxic anti-cancer drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) can be produced locally on site at the tumor, rather than dumped indiscriminately into a person’s whole body. All it takes is inserting a gene into stem cells that normally facilitate tissue repair, transforming them into killer cells producing 5-FU from a milder precursor molecule. Another example of adults using adults parts to find solutions to adult problems.