How do the only mammals that don’t get cancer pull off this biological trick? Scientists have figured it out and are working to use this knowledge to help fight human cancers. The trick they use is a “suicidal protein, called interferon beta” which quickly kills precancerous cells and their damaged neighbors.
… Blind mole rats and naked mole rats–both subterranean rodents with long life spans–are the only mammals never known to develop cancer. Three years ago, Seluanov and Gorbunova determined the anti-cancer mechanism in the naked mole rat. Their research found that a specific gene–p16–makes the cancerous cells in naked mole rats hypersensitive to overcrowding, and stops them from proliferating when too many crowd together. …
Gorbunova and Seluanov made their discovery by isolating cells from blind mole rats and forcing them to proliferate in culture beyond what occurs in the animal. After dividing approximately 15-20 times, all of the cells in the culture dish died rapidly. The researchers determined that the rapid death occurred because the cells recognized their pre-cancerous state and began secreting a suicidal protein, called interferon beta. The precancerous cells died by a mechanism which kills both abnormal cells and their neighbors, resulting in a “clean sweep.”
“Not only were the cancerous cells killed off, but so were the adjacent cells, which may also be prone to tumorous behavior,” said Seluanov.
“While people don’t use the same cancer-killing mechanism as blind mole rats, we may be able to combat some cancers and prolong life, if we could stimulate the same clean sweep reaction in cancerous human cells,” said Gorbunova. …
Gorbunova believes the anti-cancer mechanism is an adaptation to subterranean life. “Blind mole rats spend their lives in underground burrows protected from predators,” said Gorbunova. “Living in this environment, they could perhaps afford to evolve a long lifespan, which includes developing efficient anti-cancer defenses.”
More: Eureka Alert
Some believe that cells become cancerous in the first place due to microbes inside the cells, which can be killed in different ways. One company, Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi), claims to have a complete cure for cancer:
A small team of Israeli scientists think they might have found the first complete cure for cancer.
“We believe we will offer in a year’s time a complete cure for cancer,” said Dan Aridor, of a new treatment being developed by his company, Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi), which was founded in 2000 in the ITEK incubator. AEBi developed the SoAP platform, which provides functional leads to very difficult targets.
“Our cancer cure will be effective from day one, will last a duration of a few weeks and will have no or minimal side-effects at a much lower cost than most other treatments on the market,” Aridor said. “Our solution will be both generic and personal.”
It sounds fantastical, especially considering that an estimated 18.1 million new cancer cases are diagnosed worldwide each year, according to reports by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Further, every sixth death in the world is due to cancer, making it the second leading cause of death (second only to cardiovascular disease).
Then again, some highly doubt that this company can deliver:
The CEO of the company behind the research told The Times of Israel on Tuesday that it has not published its research in medical journals, as is the norm, because it “can’t afford” to do so, but that the results of its pre-clinical trials have been “very good.” Several Israeli experts contacted by The Times of Israel declined to comment on the claim, some precisely because they were not familiar with the research….
Dr. Ben Neel, director of Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health, told The New York Post that “cancer is multiple diseases, and it is highly unlikely that this company has found a ‘cure’ for cancer any more than there is a single cure for infections.”
He said that “more likely, this claim is yet another in a long line of spurious, irresponsible and ultimately cruel false promises for cancer patients.”
Time will tell. Curing cancer would significantly increase human lifespans and would end a lot of suffering, so I’m for it. How about you? Should we cure cancer if we can?