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Can Soap Be The Link To Curing Cancer?

Posted Jan 05 2011 2:05pm
soap bubbles By Colette Bouchez
If a group of Japanese researchers are right, the same “science” behind why soap cleans our clothes just might hold the key to killing cancer cells. 
As wild as this sounds, it’s the solid premise behind a new study being released today in the journal Science Transistional Medicine.  It’s here that researchers offer proof that the same method that soap uses to trap dirt, grime and grease embedded in your gym socks and ultimately flushes it down the drain, so too can this same technology be used to target cancer cells and send them on their way. 
The concept revolves around something called “micelles” – molecules that develop from a soapy substance and work to actually surround grease and grime, trap it and pull it from our clothes.   In the new study researchers show how ordinary detergent micelles can be chemically modified to deliver a “ drug-laced arrow right to the heart of cancer cells.”  A Japanese team of researchers led by  Mami Murakami designed micelles that were later shown to have the ability to release right on target a platinum based cancer-killing drug directly into the heart of the cells DNA – where the cancer originates.  Because they target the “heart” of the cancer cell, they believe the micelle delivery system overcomes certain types of drug that occur when medicines try to get through cell layers – and can’t.  Drug resistance is, in fact, a major obstacle in cancer treatment. So what’s a micelle – and how does it do the “dirty work”?  Experts say a micelle forms when certain molecules – including soaps and detergents – are mixed with water.  As they form  micells are able  literally entrap chemotherapy drug agents used to kill cancer cells, and then carry the cancer killing drugs directly to the tumor. Once there, the cancer cells literally suck up the micelles – and the next thing you know, the damaged DNA -and the cancer - is gone.  The question of course that remains is whether or not driving the drug to the heart of the cancer cell will have any better outcome  - in terms of the drugs effectiveness.  Certainly in the development of a treatment known as "brachytherapy" doctors proved that delivering radiation "seeds" directly to prostate cancer cells worked better than wide spread radiation that attacked the entire groin.  And now again,  the new study shows that this targeted approach involving micelles also works for chemotherapy drugs.   Indeed, the researchers report that when encountered by the micelles, the cancer cells succumbed more easily and more quickly to the treatment than they did using other delivery systems . This they say is partly due to the activity of  micelle itself and partly because  the micelles are able to sneak past the defense proteins that normally  surround a cancer cell and frequently deactivate the treatment before it has a chance to get to the actual diseased cells.  So, is this the magic cancer  bullet we’ve all been looking for? Probably not - at least not yet anyway.  And there is a long way to go before we know for sure if this approach works equally well on all chemotherapeutic drugs or even all cancers. Certainly it is the killing power of the drug - and not it's delivery system - that determines if a cancer treatment works.But , that said, it is a positive step forward towards a destination that we just can’t reach soon enough. 

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Copyright by ElleMedia Network 2011 - All Rights Reserved. In addition to US Copyright, the text of this RedDressDiary article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. All formatting and style elements of this page are not available under this license, and Colette Bouchez retains all rights in those elements.  The owners and contributors to this blog may or may not benefit from the information, products or treatments that appear on these pages.

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