Cells can break down damaged molecules as well as whole areas of the cells themselves by means of self-digestion and utilize the decomposition products resulting from this process for the production of energy and new molecules or cell parts.
So-called «mitotic catastrophe» of a tumour cell: The image shows that the tumour cell is no longer able to divide after chemotherapy. However, the chromosomes (red) are distributed unequally. If this damaged cell does not die, it can cause cancer again. The group of scientists gathered by Hans-Uwe Simon discovered how cell death can be triggered and this cancer risk prevented.
Hans-Uwe Simon, Institute of Pharmacology, University of Bern.
This process of self-digestion is called autophagy and can be considered a renovation of the cell. The generation of energy by means of autophagy plays a special role for the cells if they do not have enough nutrients, oxygen or growth factors.
However, autophagy can also be used by tumour cells in order to survive stress situations such as chemotherapy - they digest the destroyed cell parts and regenerate themselves. This makes them resistant to the therapy. Now, a group of scientists from the University of Bern under the direction of Hans-Uwe Simon from the Institute of Pharmacology has discovered that the autophagy of tumour cells can be influenced with pharmacological means. The findings reveal new therapy approaches for the treatment of cancer. The study is published today in «Nature Communications».
Preventing the «reanimation» of tumour cells
The researchers studied the importance of autophagy for tumour cells. Often, chemotherapy alone is not able to destroy all of the tumour cells. While some of the tumour cells survive the therapy by means of autophagy, others go through a so-called «mitotic catastrophe», a state in which they are no longer able to divide. If these damaged cells do not die, they can cause cancer again.
Now, however, the group of scientists gathered by Hans-Uwe Simon has found a way to prevent the survival of cancer cells after chemotherapy. They discovered a connection between autophagy and mitotic catastrophe: when the self-digestion of cancer cells was suppressed by means of pharmaceuticals, the mitotic catastrophe directly resulted in cell death. This way, the survival mechanisms of cancer cells were eliminated.
With this method, the effectiveness of the usual chemotherapy can be significantly improved: "We hope that, based on these findings, we will be able to develop new therapies which will prevent the chemoresistance of established tumours", said Hans-Uwe Simon, the head of the study.
Nathalie Matter | Universität Bern
NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.
In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
21.03.2018 | Life Sciences
21.03.2018 | Trade Fair News
20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy