A new potential cervical cancer treatment is making waves. After decades of the same, largely unchanged treatment protocol, there may be a new hope on the horizon. A study conducted on mice by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has uncovered that cervical tumors that don’t respond to radiation are vulnerable to therapies that cut off cancer’s energy supply at the source.
Turning Cervical Cancer ‘Off’
The mice used in the study, implanted with human cervical cancer cells, provided some interesting data. When treated with a combination of radiation and 3 drugs designed to slow tumor metabolism, cancer’s ability to burn glucose and protect itself was shut down, thwarting cancer cell survival attempts.
The Sugar-Zapping Theory
Cancer cells take up glucose in larger amounts than normal tissues. Researchers in the study observed that tumors resisting treatment were those that took up a large deal of glucose prior to radiation therapy. On the hypothesis that sugar strengthens tumor resistance, they decided to delve closer into what would happen if that sugar uptake was inhibited.
With glucose eliminated as a food source, cancer cells must scavenge for sustenance. In typical treatment modalities, cancer will rally by hitting the cells’ metabolic pathways in two more ways simultaneously, making tumors vulnerable to their own self-created toxic stew.
Free radical toxicity escalates, eventually devastating the cancer cells. As healthy cells don’t rely on this fuel production pathway, no obvious negative side-effects were revealed. Future studies will explore this cancer treatment’s potential in HPV-induced cervical cancer.
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