Scientists are very close to discovering a way to boost healthy cell production in cancer patients as they receive chemotherapy.
It is also known to create chaos on normal, healthy cells.
By adding thymine – a natural building block found in DNA – into normal cells, they discovered that it stimulated gene production and triggered them to multiply. Thymine is composed from sugar in the body and is necessary to make DNA. The research team wanted to understand how quick-growing normal cells metabolize sugar and other nutrients to encourage growth compared to fast-growing cancer cells.
Commonly, chemotherapy patients lose their fast-growing normal cells, including hair, nails and the lining of the gut. It is necessary to understand the differences between normal versus cancer cells to improve cancer therapy and while also minimizing the severe side effects.
They were stunned to discover that when a shared protein, found in both normal and cancer cells, was removed from the healthy ones, it stopped growth. Previous studies have shown that deleting this protein, known as PKM2, from the cancer cells has no effect on cancer growth. When the protein was deleted, it caused the healthy cells to stop making DNA. But when thymine was added, they began multiplying and producing DNA again/
Researchers view this as a positive step in finding ways to boost healthy cell production, but indicate that more needs to be known on the effect thymine might have on cancer cells.
Author: Blaine Pollock