An article, by Steve Connor, in The Independent says that medical scientists might have come up with a new drug that protects cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy from their nasty side-effects.
Scientists may have found a way of protecting cancer patients from the lethal effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy using drugs that shield the sensitive gastrointestinal tract from the toxic effects of the treatment.Strong radiation or chemotherapy can destroy metastatic cancers that have spread around the body but these aggressive treatments can end up killing patients by damaging the sensitive lining of their gut, scientists said.
A study on laboratory mice, however, has shown that two relatively simple molecules, called R-spondin1 and Slit2, bind to the guts' stem cells and in doing so protect them against the harmful side-effects of anti-cancer therapy, said Professor Jian-Guo Geng of the University of Michigan."All tumours from different tissues and organs can be killed by high doses of chemotherapy and radiation, but the current challenge for treating the later-staged metastasized cancer is that you actually kill the patient before you kill the tumour," Professor Geng said.
"Now you have a way to make a patient tolerate to lethal doses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In this way, the later-stage, metastasized cancer can be eradicated by increased doses of chemotherapy and radiation.
The study, published in the journal Nature, still has a long way to go before the treatment can be tried on people, but the scientists believe that the same fundamental principles apply to human gut stem cells which ensure the absorption of nutrients and prevent the release of bacterial toxins in to the bloodstream.If human trials are eventually successful, which are years away, then cancer patients undergoing traditional treatments will be able to accept higher dosages of both radiation and chemo drugs. This approach is important, say. medical oncologists, in responding to later-stage cancers that have metastasized to many areas of the body. Even so, I would think that the best, most-ideal approach is one that uses little toxic chemicals and radiation and yet is able to kill the cancer.
You can read the rest of the article at [The Independent]