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Cancer tumors are dangerous for the body only because they perfectly disguise themselves and “deceive” its various systems. For example, the immune system can easily destroy malignant cells, but it simply does not see them, as they pretend to be healthy cells. Therefore, scientists are now working on various ways that allow the immune system to indicate cancer cells in the body, for example, using mRNA vaccines. But this is not the only promising technology for cancer treatment. As you know, the tumor is very voracious. Therefore, they try to deceive their environment so that healthy cells help the tumor grow. If you deprive them of such support, then it can die on its own, even without the effects of immunity or any drugs.
How do brain cells support a tumor?
One of the most dangerous, and at the same time common types of brain tumors is glioblastoma. Like other malignant tumors, it requires support, so cells called astrocytes actively care for it. Previously, it was assumed that the task of the latter is only to serve neurons, so they were also called nurse cells. But, later it turned out that they are able to indirectly affect the cognitive functions of the brain, as they interfere with the work of neurons.
By studying the work of normal astrocytes and those that are close to the tumor, Israeli scientists have found out how they support glioblastoma. It turns out that nurse cells use two mechanisms for this at once. The first of these is in interaction with the neural system. As with the maintenance of ordinary neurons, astrophages call immune cells microphages to the tumor.
However, microphages do not fight the tumor as they should. Astrocytes make it so that they begin to work on glioblastoma – they eliminate all the dangers that can harm it. Such dangers include the remains of dead cells, all kinds of molecular debris, etc.
The second mechanism is even more important for the tumor – it is responsible for feeding the cancer with cholesterol. As we have already said, malignant cells are voracious, as they require a lot of energy. However, it is not so easy to get the required amount of energy in the brain. The blood-brain barrier, located between the circulatory system and nervous tissue, does not allow all substances from the blood to pass into the brain.
Astrocytes, on the other hand, feed the brain cells with cholesterol, therefore they are able to synthesize it in large quantities. Accordingly, when they are close to the tumor, they begin to supply it with this substance.
How scientists cured brain cancer
As the scientists report in their study, published in the journal Brain, a tumor without astrocytes is so helpless that it dies within a few days. Of course, we are not talking about the physical destruction of nurse cells. It is enough to prevent them from doing their job of supporting the tumor. But how to do that?
As mentioned above, astrocytes synthesize a large amount of cholesterol, which is necessary for cancer nutrition. However, simply synthesizing a substance is not enough. It still needs to be transported. This is done by the ABCA1 protein.
When the authors turned off this protein, and it ceased to perform its task, the flow of cholesterol dried up, which led to the rapid death of the tumor from starvation. Moreover, after the cancer dies, it does not return, unlike, for example, traditional methods of treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. By the way, leukemia is generally able to “hide” from chemotherapy.
How to starve a brain tumor?
Scientists conducted experiments on animals. On the one hand, it can be assumed that the above processes work differently in humans. However, the authors draw attention to the fact that those patients with a brain tumor who have less active genes that help supply malignant oncology cells live the longest. It also prolongs life by low activity of genes that “calm down” the immune system.
Therefore, by blocking the work of astrocytes, it is quite possible that it will be possible to treat brain cancer in humans. However, it remains to be seen how safe this method of therapy will be. The help of astrocytes is also necessary for normal cells. On the other hand, research has shown that a tumor without nutrition dies quickly. Theoretically, the work of astrocytes could be blocked for a while until the malignant cells die.To Read Great Articles, Click Here Follow Us On Facebook Twitter Telegram