For discussing the functions of different structures of all organisms.
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The other day I was feeling especially down about myself, because I want to help the world but I don't know how. Well, I mentioned cancer in a scientific debate with a friend, and I thought: Maybe I should help find the cure for cancer. Well, I looked around, and it seems that cancer is caused by mutation, when DNA doesn't know how to stop growing, or something along those lines. Well, what are some ways people stop mutation in the body? There may be a way to stop cancer(cutting it out) But not a way to prevent cancer, thoroughly. I know this may be insane to bring up "curing cancer", but someone has to do it. Are there chemicals that can stop mutation without hurting more than a specified area? I don't fully understand mutation, as well. So if you could give me some understandable links, that would be great.
It's not an easy thing to accomplish. Cells have a complex system to repair mutations, and cancer can be a problem with that or just a mutation rate that exceeds the system's abilities. Often cancer cells are "broken," cells that should just kill themselves but THAT system isn't functioning, and mutations accumulate in the cell line.
I suspect that if you did a literature search, you would find that many researchers have taken an approach similar to what you're suggesting. Who knows, you might be the one to get something useful out of it...
That would not be done as easy as it is said, because mutations arise naturally during replication and they can be induced by virtually any chemical found in the environment nowadays.
Cis or trans? That's what matters.
Mutation can be caused by many factors such as chemical (DDT, CCL4), radiation, ionizing etc. It mutate the DNA in cell. If only a single is mutated, it can be replicated as usual in mitosis. Thus, the neighbor cells which are previously normal will be affected too.
Current way to stop the cancer progression is chemotherapy. it kills the cancer cells to spread or replicate.
http://www.ask4biology.com/immunology/t ... mmunology/
Thanks for that. When I was studying mutation a couple of days ago, I saw something about radiation- I talked to one of my closest friends about it, and she told me that's what chemotherapy is. I kind of felt dumb, but at the same time sort of accomplished.
- JackBean, I know that it's easier said than done, and I sort of guessed that someone has brought on a similar approach. The more we debate it, the more I understand it. I've been researching mutation and cells(DNA and genetics, as well)- it's gotten me quite hooked on the subject of cancer and mutation, for some reason.
Darby, I understand that there are many forms of cancer, but I was simply addressing this one. I know that creating this thread was widely ambitious, but thanks for the encouragement
Chemotherapy is not the same as radiation therapy, even though people often seem to think so. They are different things altogether, but achieve or aim to achieve the same end result: killing dividing cells.
Cancer cells, typically, grow faster than normal cells in the body. Many cells do not actively divide in adult humans at all, these include e.g. neurons and muscle cells. Both irradiation and chemotherapy disrupt the cell cycle and thus mainly affect fast growing cells who are constantly dividing. Irradiation does this mostly by introducing so many errors to the cell's genome that it fails the mitosis and dies. Chemotherapeutic agents have various ways of action, but they all aim to impair mitosis and thus kill fast dividing cells as well -- or force them to undergo apoptosis. So, as peculiar as it may sound, in radiotherapy cancer is fought with its own weapons: mutations.
Naturally, both these treatments come with plenty of side effects. For example, radiotherapy in itself may cause cancer, as it introduces mutations to cell genomes and some of those mutated cells may survive and become cancer cells later when its their turn. Also, since both treatments target dividing cells they are harmful to all the rapidly dividing cells in a human body, not only cancer cells. These include especially blood cells and epithelial cells, which both divide constantly and are therefore affected by irradiation and chemotherapy. Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy often lose their hair for this precise reason: the fast-dividing cells of the hair follicle become so damaged that the hair falls off and they have gastrointestinal problems, because the gut epithelium gets damaged in the treatment. Radiotherapy is typically aimed to a very precise area (where the tumor is) and this helps to save the other tissues of the body. Chemotherapeutic agents have systemic effects since they are delivered intravenously and because of that may have wider side effects.
Because of the nature of these therapies, it is paradoxically so that often the most aggressive cancers respond best to the treatments since the cancer cells in these cases divide very rapidly. Of course, the cancer may still spread too quickly to be curable. Slow-growing, "passive" cancers, in turn, may allow the patient to live for many years without much problems, but turn out to be extremely resistant to these treatments once therapies are required.
I just wanted to give you a brief overview of these two topics, since you seemed to have confused them. Also, I hope that you notice that fighting cancer is a very tricky business and may even require introducing mutations to the patient's body to help them survive.
As others have already said, preventing cancer altogether may be next to impossible, but better treatments can most certainly be developed. If I had to guess, I would perhaps go for monoclonal antibody-based treatments to be the next big thing. The specific nature of antibodies would allow targeting only the cancer cells without harming the healthy cells, and the antibody can stimulate the body's own immune cells to kill the cancer cells or they can block vital receptors on the cancer cell's surface; or they could even be used to deliver cell-killing drugs to the exact spot where they are needed. Also, antibodies reach almost all tissues in the body. Some progress in this field has already been made, but I guess it is needless to say that also these drugs have had many difficulties along the way.
For example, because cancer cells divide quickly and they may have dysfunctional proof-reading mechanisms in the cell replication, they easily accumulate more mutations and these have a good chance to stop any one drug from working. Thus combination treatments would probably be needed for curing a cancer, making the task of developing drugs even more difficult -- you would need not just one effective drug, but several. For these and other reasons the researchers still have much to do before cancer can be treated in a similar manner as how bacterial infections are treated today (with antibiotics, or with combination of several antibiotics, because of the very same reason: acquired resistance).
Woah,thank you so much for that. I honestly just entered "the realm of biology" a week or two ago(self taught), and I learned just yesterday how DNA is made out of four nucleotides; adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine... Yeah, that's how much I don't understand cancer and DNA.
I was thinking about how radiation causes mutations in of itself, while reading up on it- so thanks for mentioning that. I never looked it up, though I should have- it seems very interesting. I'm starting to think that my idea has already been put into action, and may not be the most safe way to "cure" cancer.
Once again, thank you for clearing up the difference between chemotherapy and radiation therapy- I don't exactly love being ignorant.
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