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Escape cancer, but age sooner? The dark side of the tumor suppressing process
Date:12/1/2008

udy defines a new paradigm for how oncogenes promote, and how tumor suppressor genes suppress the development of cancer," said Campisi. "The established role for these genes is to control the cell itself. Our findings show that both types of genes also strongly change the tissue microenvironment, and therefore control cancer by mechanisms that depend not only on the response of the affected cells themselves, but also on the response of neighboring cells, or the local tissue environment." Campisi said the findings also help explain why cancer patients feel so sick when they get chemotherapy. "Chemotherapy is brutal -- both normal and cancerous cells are forced into senescence, with resulting secretion of inflammatory factors that can produce flu-like symptoms during treatment," Campisi said.

While Campisi emphasizes that chemotherapy can cure cancer, she says the study provides a cautionary note for younger patients who receive treatments that could promote the development of further cancers later in life. Campisi said the study points out the need for new biologically targeted therapies for cancer that exploit more specific differences between normal and cancer cells. Current DNA damaging chemotherapy focuses on cells that divide rapidly - impacting cancer cells, as well as all dividing cells including cells in the alimentary canal and hair follicles.

The next phase of the ongoing research involves efforts to encourage the body to eliminate senescent cells more rapidly than it normally does. "That's got to be the goal," said Campisi. "Although senescent cells exist for the good purpose of preventing cancer, we don't want them to hang around we want the body to be able to get rid of them."


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Contact: Sally Hubbard
press@plos.org
Public Library of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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