Tag Archives: cancer

Can Polio Cure Cancer?

By Briga Mullin, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ’15

The human body’s immune system has been developed to successfully battle foreign invaders including bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Immunotherapy is the idea that the power of the immune system can be utilized against diseases such as cancer. Typically, the immune system does not harm the body’s own cells, preventing it from being extremely effective against cancer. However with different medical interventions to strengthen the body’s immune response, it is possible to get an effective treatment (Cancer Immunotherapy 2015).

A unique and exciting branch of immunotherapy involves oncolytic viruses, genetically modified viruses that are used to infect tumor cells and fight cancer (Vile, Ando, and Kirn 2002). One example of an oncolytic virus is Oncolytic Polio/Rhinovirus Recombinant (PVS-RIPO), a genetic combination of poliovirus and a strain of the common cold. Continue reading Can Polio Cure Cancer?

A Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Treatment

 Exciting, new gene therapy treatments for breast cancer are on the verge of making a breakthrough. With proper funding, these procedures could reduce the need for the surgical removal of organs.

By Rayan Kaakati, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior

Being born female automatically enters one in a game of Russian roulette: About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime; for American women, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death (U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics).

Breast cancer is a disease that starts in the tissues of the breast and is statistically fatal for one in thirty-two women (Breast Cancer Facts). Many women, throughout recorded history, have succumbed to this malignant disease. Rapid advancements in research have been very promising for cancer cell-targeting medications and for gene modification techniques.

Medicine in the twenty-first century is still resorting to what the ancient Chinese and Arab doctors used to practice: “If cancerous, cut it out if possible,” or in current-day terms, order a “lumpectomy” or a “mastectomy” (if the entire breast is to be removed). In recent years, a toxic chemo “smoothie” and an intensive radiation regimen have been added, coupled with hormone therapy.  While these medical procedures are credited with saving thousands of lives, they are still primitive compared to current, promising research works.

Continue reading A Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Treatment

From Embryo to Tumor: the widespread applications of Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition

By Briga Mullin, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ’15

What do a smoker, a two week old embryo, a child with a broken wrist, and a metastatic tumor all have in common? While these are a diverse group of conditions, they all have cells that are experiencing the same process known as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Mesenchymal cells are non-polarized, mobile, invasive, and their main function is to secrete extracellular  matrix. In contrast, epithelial cells form our skin and the linings of our internal organs. They are normally polarized which means they have a directional structure and are uniformly oriented and are attached to a membrane to form a layer of epithelial tissue.  Under certain conditions an EMT will occur and epithelial cells will change  their transcription patterns, produce new proteins, destroy the basal membrane they are attached to, and totally convert their phenotype to become motile  mesenchymal cells.  EMT can be triggered by a variety of conditions and can yield very beneficial or extremely detrimental results depending on the circumstances. Continue reading From Embryo to Tumor: the widespread applications of Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition