by | Mar 30, 2017 | Cancer, Cancer Research

How cancer cells develop resistance

Study identifies how cancer cells may develop resistance to FGFR inhibitors

A mechanism by which cancer cells develop resistance to a class of drugs called fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) inhibitors has now been uncovered by investigators. The researchers also found that use of a second inhibitor might improve the effectiveness of these drugs by possibly preventing resistance, and it recommends that clinical trials should be designed to include a second inhibitor.

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Dr. Stegall’s comments: One of the hallmarks of cancer cells are their ability to mutate – change their genetics and their behavior – in order to survive. These mutations can frequently result in resistance, meaning that the therapies which were working will stop working as well – if at all. For this reason, we must carefully choose therapies which we think will work well, and administer them in a calculated way. With cancer, more is not always better, and this is true whether we are talking about a drug, a supplement, or any other treatment.

Cancer multidrug resistance

Multidrug resistance, the principal mechanism by which many cancers develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs, is a major factor in the failure of many forms of chemotherapy. It affects patients with a variety of blood cancers and solid tumors, including breast, ovarian, lung, and lower gastrointestinal tract cancers. Tumors usually consist of mixed populations of malignant cells, some of which are drug-sensitive while others are drug-resistant. Chemotherapy kills drug-sensitive cells, but leaves behind a higher proportion of drug-resistant cells. As the tumor begins to grow again, chemotherapy may fail because the remaining tumor cells are now resistant.

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Dr. Stegall’s comments: One of the many reasons why I love fractionated (low dose) chemotherapy, and use it exclusively, is because we feel that it reduces the frequency of resistance. In a conventional setting, high doses of chemotherapy are given, typically once every 1-3 weeks. The high doses, coupled with the lag time before another round of chemo can be given, often result in the cancer cells becoming resistant. With fractionated chemotherapy, which we administer using a delivery system known as insulin potentiation therapy (IPT), we are able to give lower doses more frequently. This not only seems to reduce the occurrence of drug resistance, but also results in little to no side effects.

Overcoming multidrug-resistant cancer with smart nanoparticles

Multidrug resistance (MDR) is the mechanism by which many cancers develop resistance to chemotherapy. Researchers have developed nanoparticles that simultaneously deliver chemotherapy drugs to tumors and inhibit the MDR proteins that pump the therapeutic drugs out of the cell, rendering tumors highly sensitive to the cancer-killing therapy.

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Dr. Stegall’s comments: Developing novel ways of reducing multi-drug resistance (MDR) is important when dealing with a highly adaptable and evasive opponent such as cancer. Bringing in brilliant minds from a wide range of backgrounds, including engineers, is necessary if we hope to make new discoveries.

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