Autophagy Revives Dying Cancer Cells

Self digestion thwarts self destruction.  

kerry grens
Kerry Grens

Kerry served as The Scientist’s news director until 2021. Before joining The Scientist in 2013, she was a stringer for Reuters Health, the senior health and science reporter at...

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Apr 7, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTHCancer cells in the throes of death, being ripped apart from the inside by apoptosis, can evidently survive and piece themselves back together. A study published last month (March 27) in Cell Reports and presented this week at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting in San Diego, California, demonstrates how cancer cells with heightened autophagy can recover from such destruction. The results offer insight on how cancer cells might be able to withstand chemotherapy.

“The implication here is that if you inhibit autophagy you'd make this less likely to happen, i.e. when you kill cancer cells they would stay dead,” Andrew Thorburn, the senior author of the study and the deputy director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center, said in a press release.

Thorburn’s group looked at HeLa cells treated with a drug called TRAIL, which induces apoptosis. They found that...

“Autophagy is complex and as yet not fully understood,” Thorburn said in the release. “But now that we see a molecular mechanism whereby cell-fate can be determined by autophagy, we hope to discover patient populations that could benefit from drugs that inhibit this action.”

Check out this video of a cell ressurected from apoptosis.

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Autophagy Revives Dying Cancer Cells

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