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Mumbai: New study sheds light on increasing cancer survival

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Mumbai: New study sheds light on increasing cancer survival

Doctors at Tata Memorial Hospital have gathered crucial data on the effectiveness of current cancer treatments by implanting human breast cancer cells in immunodeficient mice to generate tumours. While these treatments have helped many people, research led by Dr Indraneel Mittra and his team flagged that chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery could potentially cause cancer to spread to other parts of the body (metastatic spread).

As cancer cells die, they release something called cell-free chromatin particles, which can transform normal cells into cancerous ones. Some of these particles can even fuse with healthy chromosomes, leading to the formation of new tumours.

When the mice received treatment in the form of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery, the researchers found the presence of human DNA (particles) and cancer proteins in their brains.

“The mice were sacrificed, and their brains were obtained for analysis,” the hospital said. The study’s conclusion essentially stated that  after treatment, these particles and cancer proteins had migrated from the implanted breast cancer cells to the brains of the mice.

However, not all hope is lost. Another group of mice (half of the study group) received natural agents like resveratrol—found in foods like grapes—along with very small quantities of copper. “When you mix these two in certain amounts, it creates something called oxygen radicals. When taken orally, these elements generate oxygen radicals in the stomach, which are absorbed into the bloodstream. These radicals can destroy chromatin particles and potentially prevent cancer from spreading,” explained Dr Mittra.

Asked about the future implications for cancer treatment, Dr Mittra said, “This is the first step in understanding how the damage from cancer treatment itself can be minimised and how the chances of survival increased. Research is an ongoing process and our contribution will take it in a different direction. But more work is needed for the course of cancer treatment to change.”
 

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