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  1.  (7999.1)
    Drug combo kills 90% of "precancerous" cells.

    Now Xiangwei Wu, a molecular biologist at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, and his colleagues have found two compounds that kill precancerous polyps in mice. One of these compounds is known to kill cancer cells, the other makes precancerous cells susceptible to the first compound. When injected together, they killed up to 90 per cent of polyps and left normal cells unaffected. The same mixture also killed human intestinal polyps in the lab (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature08871).

    If the drugs also kill polyps in people, they could be taken less frequently than drugs that merely inhibit growth, limiting side effects. While a 90 per cent success rate would be poor for chemotherapy, only a tiny fraction of precancerous cells ultimately become malignant. So just reducing their numbers can slash the risk of cancer, says Wu.
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      CommentAuthorFauxhammer
    • CommentTimeApr 2nd 2010
     (7999.2)
    smokeapalooza starts NOW
  2.  (7999.3)
    I have some difficulty interpreting this article. What exactly is meant by "precancerous cells" - given that virtually any cell can become cancerous, wouldn't precancerous cell simply mean "any normal cell?"

    I don't think the article is saying that potentially 90 % of all cancers can be healed with this cure, juist that it kills 90 % of polyps. And certainly not all forms of cancer develop from polyps.
  3.  (7999.4)
    Verus, it usually takes several mutations for cells to become full-blown cancers.

    The apoptosis mechanism, which tells a cell when to die has to stop working.

    An angiogenesis gene that's normally turned off needs to become activated. That induces the body to grow new blood vessles to keep the cancer cells from dying for lack of nutrients.

    An so on.

    These drugs target cells that have one of the key mutations before they divide and produce mutant offspring some of which might go on to acquire the other necessary mutations.

    The same genetic mutations turn up in lots of cancerous cells so if they've chosen the right target this treatment should treat lots of different types of cancer.

    I doubt it would be used to the general population, at least for a long while; but for people who have a family history of cancer or who have other factors which might predispose them or people who survived a previous bout of cancer, this might b useful.
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      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeApr 2nd 2010
     (7999.5)
    Given that the laws of the universe require all things to eventually turn out to have a side that sucks - I anticipate that this drug combo, while controlling cancer, will also wind up negating most life-extension treatments - thus creating a huge catch-22 for post-humanity.

    We are programmed to die. Cancer is, essentially, life run amuck - and this treatment seems to as it were, act as a traffic cop or schoolmarm that enforces a cell's programmed obsolescence.
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      CommentAuthoraike
    • CommentTimeApr 3rd 2010
     (7999.6)
    Cool. Well I'm all for anything that is less ugly than Chemo. Chemo sucks donkey balls. But on this one, it seems to me to share the inherent problem of chemotherapy (hit everything in sight with a big hammer till it dies), though to a lesser degree. I like the targeted approach with tailored antibodies better...

    But hey, anything that gets rid of chemo, yay.