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New Approach in Cancer Treatment - Essay Example

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Name Institution Course Instructor Date Is the New Approach in Cancer Treatment Targeting Cancer Stem Cells Viable? Cancer is amongst the leading non-communicable diseases causing menace in society today as it has no cure. Those suffering from the disease have to rely on radiotherapy and chemotherapy as management procedures of the disease…
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New Approach in Cancer Treatment
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Download file to see previous pages The different therapies available in the market today target to control the division rate of the tumor cells. However, emerging knowledge reveals that all cancer therapies may be missing the point and this explains why cancers relapse so often even after treatment. The new knowledge suggests that therapy should aim at altering the proliferation rate of cancer stem cells that sustain a tumor. One wonders whether this knowledge is a breakthrough towards discovering a potential cure for cancer. This paper will tackle the potential of this new knowledge to change the picture of cancer treatment, its challenges, and promises. Description of Cancer Stem Cells Cancer originates from a transformation of cells from normal growth pattern to abnormal growth properties. Cancer stem cells are primitive cells that are responsible for the growth and advancement of a tumor. These cells have the capacity to regenerate and the regeneration process yields differentiated cells. The cancer stem cells yield malignant cells on renewal. They possess other critical characteristics of normal stem cells. They display multi-potency and experimental evidence reveals that they can give rise to tumors when introduced into normal tissues in organisms with compromised immune systems. Experimental evidence has proved that cancer stem cells are responsible for the new population of cancer cells when a tumor recurs. These experiments reveal that the few multi-potent cancer stem cells have the potential to restore new populations of all various cell populations in the first tumor. Cancer stem cells are the only ones capable of metastasis to other tissues and give rise to new tumors. Cancer stem cells portray resistance to anti-cancer drugs available in the market today (Majumder, 2009:13). Although these drugs succeed in reducing the tumor mass cells by altering different aspects of their proliferation, the cancer stem cells remain unaltered and survive. After some time, these stem cells initiate a new process of tumor formation (Clevers, 2011:5). Since cancer stem cells show very slow proliferation whereas most of the drugs only target the highly proliferative cells, then such drugs leave cancer stem cells intact. Cancer stem cells acquire the potential to activate and repress certain genes just as normal stem cells do. However, stem cells do not respond to certain stop signals that other stem cells respond to and end up gaining an infinite life span. Evidence of the Presence of Cancer Stem Cells The first evidence that cancer stem cells were present in cancers was through analysis of hematological cancers. Researchers observed a small proportion of cells that possessed the self-renewing properties among a sphere of cancer cells. This property is similar to those of normal hematological stem cells. Hematological cancer cells observed a similar hierarchy of differentiation into cells of varying life spans just like the physiological hematological cells. In this hierarchy, majority of the cells had short and long life spans. Research revealed that some of the long-term cells possessed characteristics similar to normal hematologic stem cells. This initial evidence probed advanced study on the same concept in other cancer types. So far, research indicates that cancer stem cells are present in the following types of cancers brain, colon, pancreatic, melanoma, prostate and breast cancer (Hayat, 2010:178). In sarcomas, although ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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