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Discoveries point to more powerful cancer treatments, fewer side effects
Date:2/27/2014

What if there were a way to make chemotherapy and radiation more effective as cancer treatments than they are today, while also getting rid of debilitating side effects that patients dread? A new study led by Alexey Ryazanov, a professor of pharmacology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and member of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, suggests the day that happens could be getting closer.

Side effects such as heart damage, nausea and hair loss occur when cancer therapy kills healthy cells along with the malignant cells that are being targeted. It is a medical form of collateral damage. But Ryazanov explains that if a way could be found to protect those healthy cells, then doses of chemo and radiation could actually be increased, "killing all the cancer cells and the patient would be cured. We also could start treating cancers that now can't be cured because the most effective doses are too toxic to normal tissues."

The key to Ryazanov's vision of cancer treatment is addition by subtraction specifically elimination of eEF2K an enzyme that influences the rates at which proteins are created in the human body. Ryazanov first identified eEF2K more than a quarter century ago, and since then, bit by bit, he and other scientists have uncovered many complicated processes for which that enzyme is responsible.

Ryazanov's latest findings, published in the journal Developmental Cell, demonstrate that the presence of eEF2K weakens healthy cells. His evidence is the enzyme's involvement in a process where defective cells involved in reproduction are degraded -- and ultimately destroyed -- as a way to preserve genetic quality from one generation to the next.

Still, there is eEF2K in every cell in the body, and Ryazanov says the enzyme's presence tends to leave cells less robust than they otherwise would be. According to Ryazanov, it is that added weakness that leaves healthy cells vulnerable to being poi
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Contact: Rob Forman
robert.forman@rutgers.edu
973-972-7276
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert

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