This could have applicability in maybe a majority of patients, said David Quinn, a practicing oncologist and medical director of USC Norris Hospital and Clinics. He predicted that many oncology groups would be eager to test the Longo groups findings, and advised patients to look for a clinical trial near home.
Longo, an anti-aging researcher who holds joint appointments in gerontology and biological sciences at USC, said that the idea of protecting healthy cells from chemotherapy may have seemed impractical to cancer researchers, because the body has many different cells that respond differently to many drugs.
It was almost like an idea that was not even worth pursuing. In fact it had to come from the anti-aging field, because thats what we focus on: protecting all cells at once, Longo said.
What really was missing was a perspective of someone from the aging field to give this field a boost, UCLAs Cohen said.
The idea for the study came from the Longo groups previous research on aging in cellular systems, primarily lowly bakers yeast.
About five years ago, Longo was thinking about the genetic pathways involved both in the starvation response and in mammalian tumors.
When the pathways are silenced, starved cells go into what Longo calls a maintenance mode characterized by extreme resistance to stresses. In essence the cells are waiting out the lean period, much like hibernating animals.
But tumors by definition disobey orders to stop growing because the same genetic pathways are stuck in an on mode.
That could mean, Longo realized, that the starvation response might differentiate normal and cancer cells by their stress resistance, and that healthy cells might withstand much more chemotherapy than cancer cells.
The shield for healthy cells does
|Contact: Carl Marziali|
University of Southern California