Scientists Find Way To Boost Healthy Cells During Chemo

Scientists Find Way To Boost Healthy Cells During Chemo
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It’s well known that chemotherapy helps fight cancer. It’s also known that it wreaks havoc on normal, healthy cells. Scientists are now closer to discovering a possible way to boost healthy cell production in cancer patients as they receive chemotherapy. By adding thymine – a natural building block found in DNA – into normal cells, they found it stimulated gene production and caused them to multiply. The study was published in the journal Molecular Cell.
Thymine is made from sugar in the body and is necessary to make DNA. The research team wanted to understand how fast-growing normal cells metabolize sugar and other nutrients to stimulate growth compared to fast-growing cancer cells. They were surprised 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. However, when the researchers added thymine, the healthy cells began multiplying and producing DNA again.
Both 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.
The researchers hope the next phase of their research will help answer this question and also reveal more on what to target in order to stop cancer cell production. Their ultimate goal is to selectively stop cancer growth while avoiding side effects including hair loss and vomiting.