Sunday, December 20, 2015

Defining Sphingolipids’ Role In Cancer Apoptosis

Cancer Research

Colon Cancer Cells: Charlotte Hsu, for the University of Buffalo, writes:  “The ones in red are unharmed. The ones in green are undergoing a highly orchestrated form of cellular death called apoptosis. A new study investigates the role that lipids play in this dying process.”
Image Credit: Virginia del Solar
Source: Science Daily

An article, by Charlotte Hsu, from the University of Buffalo and posted in Science Daily looks at the role that the organic compound sphingolipids plays in helping cancer cells die; this cellular death is called apoptosis. Cancer researchers have been looking to exploit apoptosis as a means to derive a therapeutic benefit since the early 1970s.

In “Probing the mystery of how cancer cells die (December 17, 2015), Hsu writes:
A new study by University at Buffalo scientists sheds light on this topic, tracing how levels of various sphingolipids spike inside cancer cells when the cells are undergoing a highly organized form of cellular death called apoptosis.
In normal cells, apoptosis—akin to cellular suicide—is carried out when a cell is damaged. The self-destruction is healthy: It’ thought to help the body rid itself of dysfunctional cells.
Cancer cells are adept at evading apoptosis, which is one reason they multiply out of control. But in the new study, the scientists forced the cells to commit suicide, then carefully tracked what happened inside the cells as they self-destructed.
“A better understanding of the machinery of apoptosis, at the fundamental level, can perhaps help us find new therapeutics for cancer,” said G. Ekin Atilla-Gokcumen, PhD, the study’s senior author and an assistant professor of chemistry in the UB College of Arts and Sciences.
That indeed is another of the many approaches cancer researchers are taking in what has been a long historical battle against a deadly and often implacable foe. The aim is to make the word cancer less ominous, less threatening, to defeat the sense of dread that it carries. Cancer still in many cases carries such a feeling, but less so today than a few decades ago—thanks to the advances brought about by research and its application in therapeutics. In many ways, we can earnestly say that this is the beginning of the end for cancer. And with its death, however achieved, people can sleep easier.

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For more, go to [Science Daily]