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The Growth Of A Cancerous Tumor In The Liver Was Stopped With The Help Of Programmed Cell Death

The Growth Of A Cancerous Tumor In The Liver Was Stopped With The Help Of Programmed Cell Death

Disabling a mechanism that interfered with programmed cell death helped chemotherapy stop the growth of liver cancer in mice. Scientists believe that this method can be used to treat other cancers. An article describing their research was published in the scientific journal Molecular Therapy.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), liver cancer is the fourth leading cause of death among other cancers, behind only lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and stomach cancer. In 2018 alone, more than 780,000 people worldwide died from it.

The press service notes that there are currently no effective methods for treating the later stages of this disease. Several promising drugs have recently been approved, but even they extend the life span of cancer patients by only three months.

Scientists from the SKOLKOVO Institute of science and technology (Russia) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) have created a new combined method to stop the growth of the most common cancer in the liver – hepatocellular carcinoma. To help chemotherapy cope with it, researchers disabled a mechanism in the liver of laboratory mice that blocks programmed cell death-apoptosis.

The main function of this mechanism is to destroy damaged cells. Every day in the adult body from apoptosis dies from 50 to 70 billion cells. To prevent this mechanism from destroying healthy cells, the body usually blocks it.

"Our approach is to turn off the mechanism that prevents cell death in the liver. As soon as the mechanism is turned off, the cells become more sensitive to chemotherapy, which should kill tumor cells and prevent division," commented Dominique Lebof, a graduate student at the SKOLKOVO Institute of science and technology and one of the authors of the work.

To direct apoptosis against cancer cells, scientists used nanoparticles to deliver miRNA, short double-stranded RNA molecules, to the liver of animals. "Even though our miRNA penetrates the entire liver, it is the tumor cells that are most sensitive to chemotherapy, since they divide quickly. And that's why they die, and normal cells survive," Lebof explained.

The authors of the study note that their method can potentially be applied to other types of cancer." The proteins that we suppress are present in all cell types. Our solution is universal and simple, and we hope that it can eventually help many patients," concluded the head of the study, SkolTech Professor Konstantin Pyatkov.

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