New communicating molecule able to tell cancer cells to die

Cancer cells before treatment (left); cancer cells after treatment (right)

Erin Mensch (11 AM Micro) found an article in Science Daily, reporting research in the biomedical journal PLoSOne which found that the principle of “quorum sensing” from bacteria might be exploited to fight certain types of cancer cells. Using bacteria and viruses to treat cancers is a topic which has been reported in BIO230 before, but new approaches are always welcome. Here is Erin’s summary:

I read an article from the Science Daily. This article was about an experiment done by the University of Missouri. At the University, they have found a molecule that is found in bacteria and has to do with communicating to other cells. They figured out that it can change the way cancer cells act and can actually stop them from spreading. This is a huge find because cancer is so deadly because of its ability to spread so quickly.

A man by the name of Senthil Kumar said that is communicating molecule can even make the cancer cell dies immediately. Kumar explains in the article that when there is an infection somewhere in the body, the bacteria is able to tell the other bacteria what to do. This could be either to spread to this specific place or to continue rapidly multiplying. The study decided to work with pancreatic cancer cells. They grew them in the lab with these communicating bacteria cells. These molecules are known as ODDHSL. They found that after the treatment from the communicating cells that the pancreatic cells stopped multiplying, stopped spreading, and even were killed off. This is a huge deal because pancreatic cancer cells are some of the hardest cells to kill off. Kumar said that this is why they chose to use pancreatic cells because he knew if it worked for them that there is a good chance it will work in a lot of other types of cancers as well. This is a huge deal to the medical world and could be the beginning part of figuring out the mystery of so many cancers.

Kumar plans to next find a way to introduce these molecules in a more resourceful way. Once they figure out a way to do that they could then move onto animal testing. After they did animal testing and if it was successful the next step would be to test it out in humans. The problem right now is trying to find a way to be able to get these molecules to do what they did in the laboratory setting not in the laboratory. He feels pretty confident with the results he has gotten so far and where this could lead to. He said that the main thing right now is finding out if it work in animals and if that is successful we could have something very good on the way. I found the article to be extremely exciting especially because my aunt was just recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers there is so knowing that this molecule could make even them die off is incredible. This would be a huge accomplishment to the medical world if they could get a way to communicate with the cancer cells and tell them to die off. I am very excited to keep following this study and hope to see some more successful articles about them finding out more about this phenomenal “communicating molecule”.


About ycpmicro

My name is David Singleton, and I am an Associate Professor of Microbiology at York College of Pennsylvania. My main course is BIO230, a course taken by allied-health students at YCP. Views on this site are my own.

Posted on October 2, 2014, in Guest Post, Microbes in the News. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on New communicating molecule able to tell cancer cells to die.

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