Cancer has been one of the most pressing medical issues in human history. Since the early years of modern medicine, oncologists and medical practitioners have been fooled by the resilience of malignant cells in the human body. These cells result in a wide range of health issues, including melanoma, leukemia, and other forms of cancer. Cancer is prevalent in every society to varying degrees. Therefore, cultural traits, dietary habits, and environmental factors cannot be blamed for all cases of cancer.While many researchers aim to discover the causes of cancer, some oncologists hope to learn the mechanisms of cancer cell replication. By discovering the processes of replication, researchers can find weaknesses. These weaknesses can be exploited for treatment options. These research efforts have led to several breakthroughs in recent years. For example, oncologists have discovered how to improve chemotherapy treatments for lung cancer patients by isolating certain biomarkers. These discoveries are promising for the future of oncology, but cancer remains a deadly disease.In most cases, cancer can be treated effectively in early-stage patients. For doctors to detect early-stage cancers, patients must visit their medial practitioner for routine examinations.
Unfortunately, many people prefer to avoid these examinations. In the future, technology may improve early-detection rates.If malignant cells are not destroyed during the early stages of cancer, a patient’s probability of survival decreases. Survival rates are extremely low for patients who have malignant cells that developed into stage four cancer. Consider the example of breast cancer. During the early stages of breast cancer, the tumors can simply be removed via surgery. This is not the case for late-stage breast cancer. Malignant cells tend to spread rapidly. When this happens, tumors can develop in numerous organs across the body.In these dire cancer cases, the chances of survival are slim. This is because oncologists do not have an effective means of neutralizing the disease. Surgery remains an option, but malignant cells are difficult to remove in some organs. For many late-stage patients, chemotherapy is the only viable treatment option. Chemotherapy is considered to be a blunt treatment. Some cancers can resist chemical and radiation treatments. Chemotherapy treatments can also result in extreme side-effects. It is clear that researchers need to discover new treatment options that are effective at all stages of cancer.
Searching for an Cancer’s Achilles’ Heel
To discover an effective treatment option for serious forms of cancer, oncologists must find a weakness in the replication process of malignant cells. If doctors can halt the replication of malignant cells, they can stop the spread of cancers in patients. This kind of discovery would be groundbreaking.Many researchers refer to this kind of weakness as the Achilles’ heel of cancer. In Greek mythology, Achilles was a warrior who was nearly invincible. To his opponents, Achilles was immune to physical harm. However, Achilles lost his invincibility when his heel was struck by an arrow. Achilles’ only weakness was exploited, and he perished during the sacking of Troy.The story of Achilles is appropriate for the field of oncology. In many cases of late-stage cancer, malignant cells seem invincible. Despite numerous chemotherapy and surgery treatments, relapse often occurs in late-stage patients. Researchers hope to find the weakness that will remove the replication abilities of malignant cells. This discovery would allow doctors to use less invasive options. Furthermore, patients could expect higher rates of success. This would eventually reduce the stress associated with cancer diagnoses.
Researchers Discover a Critical Weakness
While findings have not evolved into practical treatment options, some researchers may have discovered the Achilles’ heel of cancer cells. Garth Owens, an oncology researcher, analyzed several articles published in the journal Oncotarget in 2016 and 2016. In his statements about the existence of an Achilles’ heel for cancer, Owens acknowledged that the replication process of non-coding RNA is unknown in mainstream medicine. He believes that medical professionals must understand this process to eradicate cancer.Mainstream oncology has not deciphered the secrets of cancer, but recent papers published in Oncotarget present potential weaknesses in malignant cells. These weaknesses deal with oligonucleotides.Oligonucleotides are polynucleotides that have a small number of nucleotides. These kinds of polynucleotides are short RNA or DNA molecules. Their functions are not fully understood by oncologists, oligonucleotides are important in the field of genetics.Researchers learned that oligonucleotides can be applied to non-coding mitochondrial RNA. This application curbs tumor development in numerous pre-clinical models. Researchers also learned that the application of oligonucleotides to non-coding mitochondrial RNA can prevent metastasis.This breakthrough was discovered by the Burzio research team in 2009. While analyzing the nucleus of a sperm cell, the Burzio team noticed an odd relationship between non-coding mitochondrial RNA and cancer. This relationship deals with the splicing and ligation of 16S sense and antisense RNA. In biology, sense RNA refers to a strand that is translatable into protein. Antisense RNA refers to a non-coding strand of RNA that complements mRNA.The researchers compared healthy sperm nuclei to cancerous counterparts. The Burzio research team discovered that different structures were present in the samples. In malignant cells, the stem-loop structures are altered. Due to extreme variations in the stem-loop structures, the antisense transcripts are nearly undetectable. It is important to note that the antisense transcripts are still present. The minimal presence of the antisense transcripts can be credited to a process of down-regulation.If the antisense transcripts continued to be down-regulated, the cancer cells would be forced to enter a death cycle. This cellular mechanism is akin to a self-destruction process. With this knowledge, the Burzio research team aimed to exploit this down-regulation weakness.
A New Way to Eliminate Cancer Cells
By triggering the down-regulation process in the antisense transcripts of cancer cells, the Burzio team hoped to kill malignant cells. To study the viability of a down-regulation treatment, the researchers experimented with mice. The researchers started the experiment by dividing a large sample of mice into two groups. Both groups of mice were injected with melanoma. After the melanoma developed in the mice, the antisense transcripts were identified. The control group did not receive a treatment. However, each mouse in the treatment group was treated with the oligonucleotide application.After the initial treatments, the researchers observed the results. In the control group, the malignant cells remained prevalent. This result was unsurprising. Every subject of the control group died by day 25 of the experiment. The treatment group’s results were shocking. Due to the treatment of oligonucleotide, every member of the treatment group survived until the end of the experiment at day 120.The treatment group was euthanized and examined at the end of day 120. The researchers noted that every mouse that received the down-regulation treatment had no traces of lung or liver metastasis. While the researchers were impressed by these findings, they needed to determine if the results could be extrapolated to other cancers. They received similar results from a renal cell carcinoma model.Down-regulation treatments have not been used in human clinical trials, but the results are promising. The future of oncology is bright.
Oncotarget is a free-to-read oncology journal. All papers that are published in the journal are reviewed by a board of editors. The editors are leading researchers at key universities in Europe, North America, and Asia.The founders of Oncotarget believe that information should be free and accessible. They accomplish this mission by using a model that does not rely on paywalls or subscriptions.