Exploding Cancer Cells
March 24, 2014

Exploding Cancer Cells

Let’s be blunt. Cancer sucks.

No real surprise there, I know, but still something I wanted said. My family has a long history of cancer, so word of it always draws my attention. My grandfather had it. Both of my uncles had it. Various members of my extended family have/had it. It is quite possible, nay, likely that I will one day suffer from it to. Of course, living in fear of that does little for you, so I do not. After all, if you are so busy worrying about how you might die, there is a good chance you may forget to do all that living you are so obsessed about. Besides, with new advances in medical science and breakthroughs happening all of the time, the future is looking pretty bright for many of us. Especially with the discovery of a new substance that can literally cause cancer cells to explode.

That substance is called Vacquinol-1. It was discovered by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and, yes you read correctly, it makes the cancerous cells of glioblastoma – the most aggressive form of brain tumor – explode. How? Vacquinol-1 gives the cancer cells an uncontrolled vacuolization, which is when the cell carries other substances from outside of its cell wall inside of itself. This is done via the vacuoles, which act like bags consisting of cell membranes. When the glioblastoma cells were filled with these vacuoles, the cell membranes collapsed or ruptured, which caused the cell to explode and necrotize. This came as a great surprise to researchers, who had been testing a number of different substances to see what effects they would have on cancerous cells. Of all the various tests, Vacquinol-1 proved the most effective as it opened the door to a whole new method of treatment that had not really been considered before. “This is an entirely new mechanism for cancer treatment,” says Patrik Ernfors, professor of tissue biology at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics at the Karolinska Institute. “A possible medicine based on this principle would therefore attack the glioblastoma in an entirely new way. This principle may also work for other cancer diseases.”

Currently established treatments for glioblastoma are, at best, temporary. They include things like surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, but even with treatment the average survival for a patient diagnosed with glioblastoma is only around 15 months. When tested on lab mice, Vacquinol-1 was given to mice – in a tablet form – it was shown that tumor growth was not only halted, but reversed and the survival of the subject – mice in this case – was extended. With the average survival of the test mice who did not receive Vacquinol-1 being only around 30 days, six of the eight mice that were given the treatment were still alive after a full 80 days. No human trials have yet to be conducted, but thus far Vacquinol-1 is showing to hold great promise and there are plans of going into phase 1 clinical trials as soon as possible.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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