Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Retinol for combating leukemia cells

09.01.2006


Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is present in milk, liver, egg yolk, butter and other foodstuffs and as carotene in vegetables that have a yellow-orange colour, such as carrots and pumpkins.



This vitamin is accumulated in the liver where it is transformed into retinoid. Given that vitamin A, as such, has no effect on our organism, it is the retinoids that are responsible for the physiological activity of the vitamin.

Retinoids take part in three processes: in cell death, in cell differentiation and in cell proliferation.


Some ten years ago the Department of Cell Biology and Histology at the University of the Basque Country initiated research into how cell death was boosted by means of retinoids. It was thought that this potential could be used in the fight against cancer cells.

Clean and programmed death

Two types of death occur in cells: necrosis and apoptosis. Necrosis defines a pathological death, i.e. a death caused by a lack or deficit within the cell such as lack of oxygen or food.

On the other hand, apoptosis is the pre-programmed death of a cell. A number of cells have to die in order that our organism function correctly: for example, when the feet of a foetus are developed in the womb of a mother, at first the fingers are united by a membrane. This membrane has to disappear and, so, the cells thereof have to die off so that the hands may develop correctly. This cellular death is programmed in the embryo genes and has a concrete function. This is apoptosis.

All cells, in fact, have the necessary information to be able to undergo apoptosis but, of course, not all cells have to die. Both internal and external stimuli are what initiate this mechanism in those cases where it is necessary. Various modulating substances are involved amongst which are the retinoids.

Boosting apoptosis

Amongst these retinoids, researchers from the University of the Basque Country chose retinamide for their investigations. Retinamide is a synthetic retinoid, i.e. our body does not produce this substance naturally.

Natural retinoids are used to treat various diseases (e.g. those of the skin) but they turn out to be quite poisonous in the doses required – they are not well tolerated. This is why synthetic retinoids are created.

Specifically, the University research team analysed the effect of retinamide in certain types of leukemia - lymphoblastic leukemias. Nowadays, samples from the Hospital de Cruces in Bilbao are used in order to get these types of leukemia cells.

Lymphoblastic leukemias are, as their name indicates, a type of leukemia that affects lymphoblasts. Lymphoblasts are large cells, precursors of lymphocytes. Malign lymphoblasts are constantly dividing and they accumulate in the bone marrow impeding the formation of blood cells. In the analyses undertaken in the laboratory, it was seen that 95 % of these malign lymphoblasts died after application of retinamide. But what is the mechanism that really triggers this death?

To explain the process, the researchers analysed the action mechanism of the retinamide at a molecular level. From the analyses it was observed that the retinamide accelerated the oxidative stress within the malign cells and that this stress triggered the mechanisms leading to apoptosis. This death is normally clean and programmed death, and, to this end, a group of enzymes cut the protein inside the cell at certain sites, leading to the death of the cell in question. The death has no effect on healthy adjacent cells, does not result in swelling and the side effects are minimal.

Thus, according to what has been shown, retinamide has great potential to eliminate the lymphoblastic cells without affecting healthy lymphocytes nor the rest of the normal cells.

Made-to-measure treatment

With the molecular action mechanism understood, researchers investigated why retinamide did not affect healthy cells and they discovered other factors to explain the phenomena. So, apart from molecular mechanisms, other factors that affect the efficacy of retinamide could be clearly seen. These and others should be taken into account if a pharmaceutical to combat leukemias based on retinamide is to be marketed.

Moreover, according to the researchers, future treatment will be patient-specific. As is well known, not all patients suffering from the same illness respond in the same way to the same treatment. This is why lines of medical and pharmaceutical research increasingly mention the need to know the genetic characteristics of each patient in order to specify suitable treatment. In the case of retinamide, treatment will also be similarly specific but, before this, the trigger mechanism of the retinamide in the cells has to be known and this research will provide key data to this end.

Garazi Andonegi | alfa
Further information:
http://www.basqueresearch.com/berria_irakurri.asp?Gelaxka=1_1&hizk=I&Berri_Kod=849

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'
21.08.2018 | University of Rochester

nachricht Protein interaction helps Yersinia cause disease
21.08.2018 | Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Air pollution leads to cardiovascular diseases

21.08.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Researchers target protein that protects bacteria's DNA 'recipes'

21.08.2018 | Life Sciences

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>