According to a ScienceDaily article, a team of scientists led by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has discovered "a key factor that drives chemotherapy resistance" -- where cancer cells "live" in the body impacts the cancer's "response and resistance" to therapy.
ScienceDaily points out that, "Developing resistance to chemotherapy is a nearly universal, ultimately lethal consequence for cancer patients with solid tumors -- such as those of the breast, prostate, lung and colon -- that have metastasized, or spread, throughout the body" and that this information "may be used to improve the effectiveness of therapy and buy precious time for patients with advanced cancer."
Even cancer knows: It's all about location, location, location!
"Cancer cells inside the body live in a very complex environment or neighborhood. Where the tumor cell resides and who its neighbors are influence its response and resistance to therapy," senior author Peter S. Nelson, M.D., a member of the Hutchinson Center's Human Biology Division told ScienceDaily.
Who your neighbors are matters, too
Neslon and his team found that fibroblasts (noncancerous cells that help maintain cell structure) naturally live in a cancer's "neighborhood" and when they are exposed to chemotherapy they "sustain DNA damage that drives the production of a broad spectrum of growth factors that stimulate cancer growth." These growth factors (a protein called WNT16B) allow cancer cells to invade the surrounding tissue thus resisting chemotherapy.
This resistance requires higher doses of chemotherapy, and of course, at a point the treatment becomes too high and therefore deadly.
Dr. Nelson told ScienceDaily, "Our findings indicate that the tumor microenvironment also can influence the success or failure of these more precise therapies." In other words, the same cancer cell, when exposed to different "neighborhoods," may have very different responses to treatment.
To read the study, go to the article Treatment-induced damage to the tumor microenvironment promotes prostate cancer therapy resistance through WNT16B in Nature Medicine.
- Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (2012, August 5). New mechanism behind resistance to cancer treatment that could lead to better therapies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 7, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.comŽ /releases/2012/08/120805144809.htm.