This week a realistic cure for cancer was presented by Thomas Graeber of UCLA (Molecular Systems Biology, June 26, 2012). His team showed that depriving cancer cells of the sugar, glucose, kills them by causing the cancer cells to accumulate Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). As ROS accumulate in cells, they damage the large molecules in cells, such as DNA and RNA, and cause apoptosis, the programmable death of cells. This specifically kills cancer cells without harming normal cells.
To understand the importance of this breakthrough research, please re-read my reports from January 2012:
Blocking Glycolysis May Cure Cancer A Cure for Cancer? Part II
WHY EXISTING TREATMENTS FOR CANCER ARE NOT EFFECTIVE: Chemotherapy and radiation are not effective treatments for cancer because they kill all cells, not just cancer cells. You cannot get a high enough dose to kill all of the cancer cells without killing too many normal cells. A cure for cancer will come from developing a "magic bullet" that will kill cancer cells and spare normal ones.
WHAT IS THE BREAKTHROUGH? The researchers at UCLA showed that removing the sugar glucose, from cancer cells causes huge amounts of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) to accumulate in cancer cells. Certain chemicals called tyrosine phosphatases prevent ROS from accumulating in cells. Blocking tyrosine phosphatases stops cancer cells from being able to remove ROS and causes even higher levels of ROS to accumulate in these cells. These very high levels of ROS revive apoptosis in the cancer cells and the cancer cells die as normal cells do. THEREFORE CANCER CAN BE CURED BY: • DEPRIVING CANCER CELLS OF THE SUGAR, GLUCOSE, and • INHIBITING TYROSINE PHOSPHATASES FROM REMOVING ROS FROM CANCER CELLS.
The next step in curing cancer is to develop drugs that prevent glucose from entering cancer calls, and block tyrosine phosphatases from removing ROS, so that ROS can kill the cancer cells. This treatment will provide the magic bullet that will kill cancer cells and spare normal ones. Scientists are getting very close to a cure for cancer.
WHAT MAKES CANCER CELLS DIFFERENT FROM NORMAL CELLS? Normal Cells have programmed into their genes a limited number of doublings and then they die. Cancer cells try to live forever. So breast cancer cells keep on growing and eventually invade the brain to damage the brain and kill you. They can also spread to your liver, lungs, or anywhere else, and damage the invaded tissue and kill you. So cancer cells kill by trying to live forever. They spread to other tissues, destroy them, and kill by destroying other tissues.
WHY DO CANCER CELLS TRY TO LIVE FOREVER? Normal cells can live only a short time. For example, the cells lining your mouth live only for 48 hours and then die. Skin cells live only for 28 days and then die. Red blood cells live only for 120 days and then die. This programmable cell death, called apoptosis, that is in all normal cells, is absent from cancer cells.
WHAT DO CANCER CELLS NOT HAVE APOPTOSIS? Cancer cells lack effective mitochondria and therefore do not use food for energy the same way that normal cells do.
HOW DO NORMAL CELLS GET THEIR ENERGY FROM FOOD? Normal cells get most of their energy from two sources: • GLYCOLYSIS, turning sugar into energy. This occurs in the cell and outside of the mitochondria. • THE KREBS CYCLE. A series of chemical reactions that provide a little energy with each chemical reaction. It occurs only in small areas inside cells, called the mitochondria, that number from a few to thousands in each cell.
HOW CANCER CELLS GET THEIR ENERGY FROM FOOD: Cancer cells have defective mitochondria so they lack an effective Krebs Cycle, and therefore have to depend completely on glycolysis, or the use of sugar, alone for their energy. All cells that lack the Krebs Cycle also lack apoptosis. That means that all cells that do not have mitochondria also do not have the Krebs cycle. Therefore they lack apoptosis and try to live forever, which is cancer. If you deprive cancer cells of sugar, they will die because they do not have the other source of energy, the Krebs Cycle. An interesting thing happens when you deprive cancer cells of sugar. They try to live by reviving their mitochondria so they can use the Krebs Cycle for energy. Reviving the mitochondria, revives apoptosis and therefore turns cancer cells into normal cells that have a programmable cell death.
OTTO WARBURG: The coming cure for cancer was first proposed by Otto Warburg in 1922. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize 46 times and could have won three Nobel Prizes. Hitler prevented him from receiving a second Nobel Prize in 1944.
He was a gifted cavalry officer for Germany in World War I and won Germany's highest medal, The Iron Cross, for bravery on the battle field. He quit the military because Albert Einstein write a letter to him asking Otto to leave the military and return to the chemistry lab, since "it would be a tragedy for the world to lose your talents". This letter is available today. Otto's father was a very famous physicist in Germany and a close friend of Albert Einstein.
Otto Warburg was a Jew. Hitler was a hypochondriac who worried repeatedly about getting cancer. Since Warburg was one of the leading researchers on cancer, Hitler did not remove him from his post at Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science.
Three scientists who worked in Warburg's lab won Nobel Prizes. The most famous was Sir Hans Adolf Krebs, who worked out the equations of the chemical reactions that convert food to energy. In the 1930's, my wife's father was a professor of biochemistry at Cambridge University in England. He worked with, and wrote many papers with, Hans Krebs. He lost his chance for greatness and recognition when he was killed by the Japanese in World War II.
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