Cancer cells hibernate like a bear to tackle chemotherapy

Hibernation is a process where animals go to sleep during an adverse environment. Precisely when animals don’t get food, it follows this natural mechanism. Also, even the dipteran flies can undergo hibernation in the cool climate. This is the adaptive mechanism to conserve and store energy during harsh conditions.

To a surprise, the cancer cells follow a similar kind of mechanism when it gets targeted by chemotherapeutic drugs. Also, when these drugs are withdrawn, they often start developing over the years. This complexity makes the researchers focus more all through the decades.

Preclinical study

The study on human colorectal cancer cells indicated that its activity of division reached a downfall when it was targeted by specific drugs. Perhaps it was able to conserve the energy and further moved to a drug-tolerant persister (DTP) state. This stage might answer some failures noticed, especially during chemotherapeutic treatments. They observed a similar pathway of cells being able to resist mitosis when they grew cancer cells in a petri dish. This suggests that the cells require a minimal nutrient to survive, letting out the divisions apart.

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Besides, the xenografts of colorectal cancer cells were carried out on different sets of mice. While the mice started to show certain sizes of the tumor, the scientists treated them with a standard chemotherapy regimen. Initially, the drug worked well by reducing tumor growth. Thereafter, when the treatment subsides. It results in the regrowing of the tumor. Once they started to graft the regrown cancer cell to other mice, it again commences growing.

Although it is sensitive to the drug, it recurs continuously after the treatment is withdrawn, showing a clear DTP state. This also resembles embryonic diapause, where it pauses the embryonic growth of mice under adverse conditions.

Also, the term autophagy for cancer cells assists them to remain alive. It causes the cell to eat themselves to derive the energy. At times, it promotes tumorigenesis. Having to know the hibernating mechanism of the cancer cell helps the researchers to find a more effective treatment against the process.

This study cleared some doubts which had developed during the previous study. The said process possibly became the causative factor for drug-resistance. Further study will help to develop a successful medicine that would treat the resistant tumor cells in the future.

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Source: ScienceAlert

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