Enhanced Effectiveness of Chemotherapy Treatment

Enhanced Effectiveness of Chemotherapy Treatment

A group of researchers from the Institutes of Pharmacology and Pathology at the University of Bern has been working on improving the effectiveness of chemotherapy for cancer treatment. One main challenge of chemotherapy is the cancer cells often develop defence mechanisms, helping them to survive the treatment.

Cells are able to digest whole parts of themselves to recycle damaged molecules and recuperate energy if needed. This process of self-digestion, called autophagy, enables the cells to survive stress situations induced by chemotherapy. They simply degrade the damaged parts and used the recyclable molecules to restore themselves, this mechanism can then lead to resistance against the treatment.

So-called "mitotic catastrophe" of a tumour cell. The cell is no longer able to divide after chemotherapy. If this cell does not die, it can cause cancer again.

So-called “mitotic catastrophe” of a tumour cell. The cell is no longer able to divide after chemotherapy.

The research team of Hans-Uwe Simon at the University of Bern, has discovered a that autophagy can be influences with pharmacological intervention. The approach they were studying was to prevent the damaged cancer cells to reanimate themselves after chemotherapy, which can cause again cancer to emerge.

They found that by using DNA-damaging chemotherapy drugs (e.g. etoposide or cisplatin) in combination with autophagy inhibiting drugs (e.g. 3-methyladenine) the damaged cancer cells were pushed into the state of “mitotic catastrophe”. These new insights can be used to develop new therapy approaches for the treatment of cancer.

The reference article was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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