Biologists See Cancer Cells Commit Suicide

December 15, 1997

Researchers at Nijmegen University were surprised to discover that certain cancer cells "commit suicide" when exposed to radicals. This "kamikaze" phenomenon is particularly interesting because in cancer cells the mechanism that destroys genetically damaged cells is itself often damaged. The results of the study, which was financed by NWO, offer new insights into ways of combating intestinal cancer using chemotherapy.

The intestinal epithelium is constantly exposed to a wide variety of substances in food. Some of these compounds generate aggressive radicals. The cells making up the epithelium tissue have various ways of neutralising radicals. If these defence methods are ineffective, oxidative stress occurs. The Dutch researchers concentrated on the results of this reaction and chose to study the human cell line Caco-2 of intestinal cancer because this type of cell goes through the complete cycle from germ cell to functional cell.

Under the microscope, 20 percent of these cells were seen to kill themselves within four hours when exposed to a mild dose of compounds which produce radicals (25 micromolar). Closer observation showed that in the Caco-2 cell line the p53 gene, which has a key position in the "suicide series", is damaged. However, oxidative stress also leads to the choice of other suicidal routes in which cells which commit suicide have been only slightly affected by oxidative stress. In these undamaged cells, the level of glutathione, a substance which protects the cell against radicals, has hardly decreased at all. This shows that cells which commit suicide undergo subtle changes specifically in their genetic regulation. Evidence has been found that the balance between phosphorylation and dephosphorylation of proteins involved in cell division has shifted in favour of phosphorylation. It is possible that oxidative stress forces a cell to divide at a point when it is not yet ready to do so. Premature division disrupts the further metabolism of the cell and leads to its self-elimination.

Further information:
Jurgen Karczewski (Nijmegen University)
Tel +31 24 345 1116,
Fax +31 24 354 1802,
E-mail jurgenk@xs4all.nl.



Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

Related Cancer Cells Articles from Brightsurf:

Cancer researchers train white blood cells to attacks tumor cells
Scientists at the National Center for Tumor Diseases Dresden (NCT/UCC) and Dresden University Medicine, together with an international team of researchers, were able to demonstrate that certain white blood cells, so-called neutrophil granulocytes, can potentially - after completing a special training program -- be utilized for the treatment of tumors.

New way to target some rapidly dividing cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed
Scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the University of Oxford say they have found a new way to kill some multiplying human breast cancer cells by selectively attacking the core of their cell division machinery.

Breast cancer cells use message-carrying vesicles to send oncogenic stimuli to normal cells
According to a Wistar study, breast cancer cells starved for oxygen send out messages that induce oncogenic changes in surrounding normal epithelial cells.

Breast cancer cells turn killer immune cells into allies
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered that breast cancer cells can alter the function of immune cells known as Natural killer (NK) cells so that instead of killing the cancer cells, they facilitate their spread to other parts of the body.

Breast cancer cells can reprogram immune cells to assist in metastasis
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center investigators report they have uncovered a new mechanism by which invasive breast cancer cells evade the immune system to metastasize, or spread, to other areas of the body.

Engineered immune cells recognize, attack human and mouse solid-tumor cancer cells
CAR-T therapy has been used successfully in patients with blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia.

Drug that keeps surface receptors on cancer cells makes them more visible to immune cells
A drug that is already clinically available for the treatment of nausea and psychosis, called prochlorperazine (PCZ), inhibits the internalization of receptors on the surface of tumor cells, thereby increasing the ability of anticancer antibodies to bind to the receptors and mount more effective immune responses.

Engineered bone marrow cells slow growth of prostate and pancreatic cancer cells
In experiments with mice, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center say they have slowed the growth of transplanted human prostate and pancreatic cancer cells by introducing bone marrow cells with a specific gene deletion to induce a novel immune response.

First phase i clinical trial of CRISPR-edited cells for cancer shows cells safe and durable
Following the first US test of CRISPR gene editing in patients with advanced cancer, researchers report these patients experienced no negative side effects and that the engineered T cells persisted in their bodies -- for months.

Zika virus' key into brain cells ID'd, leveraged to block infection and kill cancer cells
Two different UC San Diego research teams identified the same molecule -- αvβ5 integrin -- as Zika virus' key to brain cell entry.

Read More: Cancer Cells News and Cancer Cells Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.