Investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered a mechanism that helps explain why healthy cells are not killed by DNA-damaging cancer chemotherapy drugs. The findings are published in the Oct. 4 issue of the journal Cell.
DNA-damaging agents are the most common kind of drugs used to treat cancer. Like most chemotherapy drugs, these are carried in the blood and travel throughout the body. They work by irreparably gumming up DNA in rapidly dividing tumor cells. That damage then triggers the cells to self-destruct through a natural process known as apoptosis, or active cell death.
The drugs also can harm rapidly dividing healthy cells, such as those in the hair follicles, but most healthy cells are unaffected. It is not known why these drugs do not trigger apoptosis in healthy cells.
Darrell E. Ward | EurekAlert!
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