A Plant’s Trait to Seek Sunlight Might Be a Cure for the Spread of Cancer

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Health Editor’s Note:  Talk about thinking outside the box!  Could a treatment, using proteins from plants, stop the metastasis (uncontrollable spread) of cancer?  How could this be possible?  Currently, the immediate attack on a cancerous tumor is to remove the  tumor, but that does not guarantee that cancer cells have not already moved to another part of your body. 

Once (or if) cancer has spread beyond its original site, it can move anywhere in the body and produce more cancer cells and eventually that will kill you.  This innovative new study combines the special trait that plants have for moving toward the sun with a plan to attack cancer cells that are metastasizing. Combining a plant protein and cancer cells seems like a Frankenstein (ian) task, but when you really think about it, maybe not.  Stopping cancer’s movement to other parts of the body  is what it will take to rid us of the foreboding worry of cancer’s spread. Do you think this will work?……Carol 

Plant Protein Illuminates Cancer Study

Researchers use a light-sensitive protein to track cancer metastasis

by Megan Thielking  January 30, 2018

There’s a special protein in plants that helps them crawl toward the sun. Now, scientists have harnessed that protein to glean new insights into cancer metastasis.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, placed that light-sensitive protein into a cancer cell line to illuminate how cells move around in vivid detail.

STAT chatted with biomedical researcher Torsten Wittmann, PhD, about the work, published in Nature Cell Biology.

How does the technique work?

We have devised a new light switch to turn off and back on specific proteins within seconds inside living cells using light. We insert a light-sensitive module in between different parts of a protein that need to work together to function in a cell. This protein then falls apart, or is inactive, when the blue light is on and comes back together when the light is turned off. Light can be turned on and off very quickly, and we can also very precisely control the location of light exposure, and only illuminate a small part of a cell … We think this is a broadly useful tool to figure out how proteins make cells work.

Your study focused on a cell’s microtubules. What are they, and why did they interest you?

Microtubules form a network of hundreds of thin fibers throughout the cell that, for example, work as a highway system for transport of vesicles and other cargo inside cells. Microtubules are also very dynamic and continuously switch between getting longer and shorter. Think of it as roads that are being built and then taken apart again. Because we are interested in how the microtubule cytoskeleton helps cells accomplish complex tasks, such as change their shape, move, or divide, we chose a protein as proof-of-principle that controls how microtubules interact with other structures inside cells.

What happened when you put the light-sensitive protein into microtubules?

We replaced this protein in a cancer cell line with our light-sensitive version and demonstrated that we can stop microtubules from elongating within seconds by turning on blue light. This allowed us for the first time to directly show that microtubule elongation in the front of cancer cells is required for them to move directionally, and we could prevent a cancer cell from leaving a virtual blue light box for many hours. Even though microtubules are a target of several chemotherapy drugs, it is still quite mysterious how these drugs kill cancer cells. Our results support the idea that they target not only cell division, but also the movement of cancer cells that underlies metastasis, which is in fact the most deadly aspect of many cancers.

This post originally appeared on STAT News.

Biography
Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – one daughter-in-law; Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescue pups.

Carol’s Archives 2009-2013
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7 COMMENTS

  1. The main issue with plant based medicine, is the lack of recognition of location as a factor. If you take a Drosera plant and grow in a lab in Wyoming, it will not have the same medicinal quality as one grown in a natural location. Likewise, plant based medicine could be improved by 40 % just by taking into consideration time and location of the persons individual birth along with the origin of the plant. Plants are spiritual beings and if they are detached from the natural setting, then they will be sick too. Treating the body with light and sound is definitely in our future.

    • David Odell, I am not an expert on plants but I would suspect that the protein that causes a plant to grow toward sunlight would be a survival trait in all plants no matter where they are grown. Those long before us had only the use of plants to cure the sicknesses they endured. Plants were here before us and must have answers for us. Carol

  2. Otto Warburg, M.D., Ph. D. in Germany, proved that cancer is caused by oxygen deficiency in cells over a relatively long time. He also proved that there is a time interval during the transition from a normal oxygen based metabolism to a glucose based metabolism of the cell before it is fully transformed to an irreversible cancer cell which can only be killed. During the transition period, which he called “sleeping cancer cells”, they can theoretically be reversed back to normal by some intervention. A researcher Brian Peskin has a great idea to use essential fatty acids to accomplish this because they have a high affinity for oxygen. He calls them “oxygen magnets” which could in principle reverse a sleeping cancer cell back to normal. Warburg explained that cancer is basically just like the lowest living forms on Earth before the appearance of oxygen which survive anerobically without oxygen or fermentation like soured milk in a closed container. He has written a great book “The Hidden Story of Cancer” published about 2006-2010 which has an excellent readable discussion of Warburg’s seminal discoveries on cancer which have been obstructed by the criminals in the NCI and FDA. However there is a current effort to move back to Warburg’s conclusions, based on experiments and facts because of the dismal failure of the orthodoxy to solve the cancer problem despite squandering upwards of $ 1 trillion on it.

    • One of the unfortunate reason’s Warburg’s work has been obstructed, is not because it is wrong, since it is all verifiable by repeatable experiments, but because these prejudiced bigots in the NCI and FDA hated him because he remained in Germany through the Hitler reign until his death in 1970. He completed the proof of his claims for humans by about the 1955-1965 period. Warburg was part of the old German system where only top scientists were identified and given total freedom with zero interference from external sources, “you could walk in the woods for two years and no one would say a word.” This is how basic research must be done. It paid great dividends. Warburg published over 500 scientific papers and books in his life time. He was awarded the solo Nobel prize in medicine in 1931. He was nominated for the first cancer prize in 1926 but it was unfortunately given to Fibiger whose work was shown to be wrong; he was nominated again in 1944 for different work but Hitler’s decree intervened. Three of his pupils earned shared Nobel Prizes; Otto Meyerhof, Hans Krebs and Hugo Theorell. Warburg is considered the greatest biochemist of the 20th century. Many books incorrectly state Warburg was awarded two Nobel prizes; he was only awarded one in 1931 but nominated for three total.

    • wjabbe,

      Our bodies have a many types of white blood cells. While we think of infection control with WBCs, probably the most important function, there are functions for each type of WBC. The natural killer cells have the job of finding any mutated cell and destroying it. A cancer cell is a mutated cell that has lost the ability to police itself. We have cancer cells cropping up in our bodies all the time and the NKCs eliminate them. It is when the NKCs no longer get the message to find and kill cancer cells that we have the beginnings of cancer. Oxygen is of course essential for cells to live. It makes sense that any disruption in such a major supply source would alter the abilities of that particular cell to do its job. Warburg had lots of this right.
      Cancer does not discriminate (well some genders and ethnic groups may be more prone to certain types of cancers) and all humankind and animals are susceptible to its ravages. There should be no boundaries between nations, political groups, medical groups, etc. to “sit” on a potential cure and not share and get ideas from others. Research is being done in all realms and that research should be available for others to start from and perfect if they can. Also, the potential to make the all mighty dollar should not be a factor other than to cover the costs of the actual research. Drug companies, take note! Carol

  3. A lot of cancer research now is moving away from the drugs and side effects into this away of “recurrent cancers”. Science Daily has reported some focus on cancer stem cells that are like sleeper agents that do not trigger the immune reaction and can hide for an extended period.

    Some of the new research focus is on developing proteins that will hunt down these cells and kill them while leaving the rest of the body alone.

    • Jim and others, Immunotherapy, biologic therapy, or biotherapy is all about stimulating a person’s immune system to do a better job of finding, attacking, and then eliminating cancer cells. This is accomplished by placing man-made immune system proteins into the body. The huge plus with this type of treatment is that ONLY the cancer cells are killed….so none of the typical horrific side effects of chemotherapies. So some therapies boost the immune system while others train your body to attack the cancer. The job is to get the body to recognize cancer cells and then go and get them…..not letting them grow into a tumor or to spread throughout the body. There are currently four types of immune therapy being used:
      Monoclonal antibodies which are man-made and are designed to attack a specific part of the cancer cell.
      These are man-made versions of immune system proteins. Immune checkpoint inhibitors which give the immune system extra permission to attack cancer cells, Cancer vaccines which created an immune response against a certain diseases (yes like a childhood or adult vaccine) to give the body an extra heads up to watch for a certain type of cancer and stop it in its tracks, and finally non-specific immunotherapies that generally boost the immune system which will allow the immune system to do what is naturally does with the NKCs. Carol

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