Natural Biological Protective Mechanism - boosted by gut proteins and stem cells

If a patient can tolerate otherwise lethal doses of chemotherapy, you have a cure for later staged cancer. Prof Geng reports how proteins called R-spondin 1 and Slit2 help the body to tolerate high doses.

In a fascinating paper in the journal Nature, Jian-Guo Geng, associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry reports a biological mechanism that preserves the gastrointestinal tracts in mice who were delivered otherwise lethal doses of chemotherapy. The idea is that if the patient's gastrointestinal tract remains healthy and functioning, the chances of survival increase exponentially.

Geng says, “People will not die from cancer, if our prediction is true,"

He also emphasises that the findings have not yet been proven in humans. The classical problem with chemotherapy and radiation is that all tumours can be killed by high doses, but the current challenge for treating the later-staged metastasized cancer is getting the dose right before it also becomes lethal for the patient.

Geng says that due to his biological protective mechanism later-staged, metastasized cancer can be eradicated by increased doses of chemotherapy and radiation.

So, what is the Biological Protective Mechanism?

Protein molecules called R-spondin1 and Slit2 repair tissue in combination with intestinal stem cells residing in the adult intestine. When these proteins bind with receptors on gut / intestinal stem cells, the cells are activated into overdrive for the purposes of intestinal regeneration and repair.

The role of stem cells is to replace damaged tissue, but at ‘normal’ levels they simply cannot keep pace with the level of destruction caused by high levels of chemo. Therefore, stimulated stem cell growth in the intestine means that the patient can eat, the body can perform other critical functions and the bacterial toxins in the intestine are prevented from entering the blood circulation.

Geng's lab has worked with molecules called R-spondin1 and Slit2, for more than a decade. These molecules repair tissue in combination with intestinal stem cells residing in the adult intestine.

For further information - see ScienceDaily

A group of organisms too small to be seen with the naked eye, which are usually made up of just a single cell. Full medical glossary
A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of all living organisms. Full medical glossary
The use of chemical substances to treat disease, particularly cancer. Full medical glossary
The gut, which begins at the mouth and ends at the anus. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of genetic material carried on chromosomes. Full medical glossary
relating to the intestines, the digestive tract between the stomach and the anus Full medical glossary
The section of gut, or gastrointestinal tract, from the stomach to the anus. Full medical glossary
A large abdominal organ that has many important roles including the production of bile and clotting factors, detoxification, and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Full medical glossary
Compounds that form the structure of muscles and other tissues in the body, as well as comprising enzymes and hormones. Full medical glossary
Energy in the form of waves or particles, including radio waves, X-rays and gamma rays. Full medical glossary
Cells with the ability to specialise into various forms. Full medical glossary
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