A new superweapon in the fight against cancer | Paula Hammond | Summary and Q&A

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A new superweapon in the fight against cancer | Paula Hammond

TL;DR

This content discusses the use of molecular engineering to develop a superweapon, consisting of nanoparticle loaded with siRNA and chemotherapy drugs, to effectively target and treat aggressive forms of cancer.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What are some forms of cancer that do not respond to traditional treatments?

Some forms of cancer do not respond to traditional treatments, such as known drugs and surgery. These forms of cancer are highly invasive, drug-resistant, and defy medical treatment, even when the best drugs are used.

Q: How do genetic mutations give cancer cells "superpowers"?

Genetic mutations in tumor cells can modify genes and enable new and unimagined modes of survival. These mutations can encode for mechanisms that allow the cancer cell to survive even the most aggressive chemotherapy treatments. One example is a gene that allows the cell to push out drugs before they can have any effect.

Q: What are siRNA molecules and how do they work?

siRNA molecules are short sequences of genetic code that can guide a cell to block a specific gene. Each siRNA molecule can turn off a specific gene inside the cell. They work by disabling the targeted genes and blocking the cancer cell's survival mechanisms.

Q: What is the role of molecular engineering in fighting aggressive forms of cancer?

Molecular engineering plays a crucial role in fighting aggressive forms of cancer by designing nanoparticles that can deliver gene blockers and chemotherapy drugs to cancer cells. These nanoparticles are small enough to travel through the bloodstream, penetrate tumor tissues, and be taken up by cancer cells. They can be personalized with specific siRNA molecules to address different genetic mutations and tumor defense mechanisms.

Q: How has the combination of siRNA and chemotherapy drugs been tested in animals?

The combination of siRNA and chemotherapy drugs has been tested in animals with a highly aggressive form of triple-negative breast cancer. First, the animals were treated with the chemotherapy drug alone, which only slowed down tumor growth. Then, the animals were treated with nanoparticles containing siRNA against the cancer drug pump and the chemotherapy drug. This combination not only stopped tumor growth but also led to tumor regression and elimination in some cases.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Cancer cells that are highly invasive and drug-resistant are like supervillains in a comic book, equipped with genetic mutations that allow them to survive even the best chemotherapy treatments.

  • Scientists have developed a strategy to combat these aggressive forms of cancer by using siRNA, short genetic sequences that can block specific genes inside cancer cells.

  • They have engineered nanoparticles that can carry siRNA and chemotherapy drugs to the tumor site, protected from degradation in the bloodstream and targeted specifically to cancer cells. This approach has shown promising results in animal testing for triple-negative breast cancer.

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