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Cancer Resistant Mouse Provides Possible Cure 364

Evoluder writes to tell us that scientists at Wake Forest University have found a "cancer resistant mouse" and bred it to make a small army of cancer resistant mice. When transplanting blood from one of these mice to a normal non-resistant mouse they are able to provide "lifetime cancer protection". From the article: "The cancer-resistant mice all stem from a single mouse discovered in 1999. "The cancer resistance trait so far has been passed to more than 2,000 descendants in 14 generations," said Cui, associate professor of pathology. It also has been bred into three additional mouse strains. About 40 percent of each generation inherits the protection from cancer."
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Cancer Resistant Mouse Provides Possible Cure

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  • by Chabil Ha' ( 875116 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:20PM (#15295686)
    but mortally susceptible to the common cold.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:21PM (#15295702)
    will skip the line you expected here and get right to the point: INVINCIBLE MICE ARMY?!?
  • Cancer Mouse... duh duh dah!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:22PM (#15295707)
    Will this cure cancer in rats? Because, EVERYTHING causes cancer in rats!
  • Delicious (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:23PM (#15295712)
    I'll take a carton of cigarettes and a shot of mouse blood.
  • There's hundred of guys on the internet that will now never get cancer of the ass. So I'm told...
  • Someone told me that if humans were meant to live forever, then God would have made us immune to cancer.

    How does God know about cancer? He doesn't even smoke or play in asbestos!
    • When you smoke the right shit, you can talk with God. Take more of it and it feels like you ARE god.

      The next day, you feel like your tongue is made of asbestos, though.
  • Reference (Score:5, Informative)

    by btavshan ( 699524 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:29PM (#15295796)
    See PNAS, vol. 103, no 20, p7753-7758. VERY interesting work.
  • Cool, now all we have to do is train these mice to go in and shut down the main reactor [umich.edu] and we will all be saved, with no bad side effects or sacrificial Vulcans!
  • Fringe benefits? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rmerrill11 ( 308424 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:30PM (#15295807)
    Hmm... now curing cancer is nice and all, but if/when applied to humans, does this mean they can smoke cigarettes w/o ill effect, clean up nuclear waste with their bare hands, or travel in space for extended duration w/o ill effect?

    How good is this really?

    (Assuming this is true, it is a wonderful step.)

    • Hmm... now curing cancer is nice and all, but if/when applied to humans, does this mean they can smoke cigarettes w/o ill effect,

      Cancer is hardly the only ill effect of smoking cigarettes. It is just hte one that gets the most press because, well, it is cancer. Smoking is one horrible, horrible thing you can do to your body. Even without cancer.

      clean up nuclear waste with their bare hands,

      Again, cancer isn't the only ill effect here...

      r travel in space for extended duration w/o ill effect?

      Again... ;)

  • Cylon? (Score:4, Funny)

    by tokki ( 604363 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:31PM (#15295820)
    So the mouse is a cylon?

    I mean, a'doy. Dr Baltar already figured this out. It cured President Rosylin's cancer, after all.
  • Another cure??? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:33PM (#15295834)
    The media is quick to call things like this a cure. The fact remains that, with some exceptions, men are not mice. Back in the late 90s, angiogenesis inhibitors (a class of drugs that inhibit the growth of new blood vessels, needed by tumors to provide nourishment as they grow) were being tested with amazing success in mice, preventing the spread of almost every form of cancer. It was hailed as the coming cure.

    Some angiogenesis inhibitors have proven to be very helpful in treating cancer, but they are not a cure. They aren't nearly as effective in humans as they were in mice, it appears.

    I'm always skeptical (and you should be too), when you hear about something that isn't even in clinical trials, as a possible cure for some disease people get. People simply don't respond the same as mice.

    That said, this does look promising as an avenue, but I wouldn't go out and take up smoking just yet.
    • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:44PM (#15295953) Homepage Journal
      They say that if you turn up with cancer you'd be well advised to be a mouse, since the treatments work so much better.
    • Re:Another cure??? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 31415926535897 ( 702314 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:48PM (#15295981) Journal
      People simply don't respond the same as mice.

      I have always held the same skepticism with regard to studies like these as reported by the media for this very reason. What I always wonder about is how many things we miss because mice (or rabbits, or monkeys, etc.) don't respond to them but humans would. I don't know if there is any good answer to this, because we don't want to start testing random crap all willy-nilly on humans, but sometimes I just wonder if we've already passed up that miracle cure.

      Perhaps someday we'll have powerful enough computers that we can simulate everything, including synthesis of a new drug for your specific form of cancer that your body will respond to. Of course, 'perhaps someday' will probably be long after I die of whatever cancer I'm going to get.

      • Re:Another cure??? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:22PM (#15296319)
        ...but sometimes I just wonder if we've already passed up that miracle cure.

        It's possible that a cure is out there in some plant in the Amazon, or as some bacteria found at the bottom of oceans. But there is no "one" cure for cancer. Cancer works in various ways which means there are various ways to kill it. Pharmacology has come a long way in the past 30 years. These days, it's very targetted. You pick a way you want to attack the cancer, and then you create a drug that does it.

        For example, there's a protein called Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF). Cancer causes the release of VEGF around the tumor that in turn, mediates the growth of new blood vessels around the tumor allowing it to get nourishment and grow. So there are several manners that you can try to prevent this. One manner is to try to prevent the creation and release of VEGF in the first place. Another is that you can "competitively inhibit" VEGF by creating a protein that "looks" like VEGF and binds where VEGF normally binds and causes blood vessel growth, except that your particular strain of protein doesn't actually trigger the growth. But by binding where VEGF normally does, you're inhibiting the VEGF from being able to bind and eventually it will be disposed of.

        There are other proteins involved in cancer and other drugs are involved with these proteins. So there are a variety of ways of attacking cancers. The most amazing work along these lines has taken place in the last decade and it's getting better all the time. I suspect it won't be long (a few decades maybe) before cancer is a thing of the past.
    • Re:Another cure??? (Score:5, Informative)

      by macklin01 ( 760841 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:28PM (#15296385) Homepage

      Part of the problem may be the difference in lifetimes between mice and humans, as well as problems in detecting small tumors.

      Anti-angiogenic therapy leads to a hypoxic tumor microenvironment (the tissue surrounding the tumor), which can, in turn, lead a tumor to fragment into smaller tumors. (This has been predicted in mathematical/computer models and verified in some experiments and clinical evidence.)

      In a mouse, those small tumors may not have time to grow large enough to detect, whereas in a human, those fragments have more time to do so, leading to recurrence. Or the small tumors may preferentially grow away from the low-O2/low-glucose region to invade nearby tissues.

      Other, slow time-scale interactions may also not come into play for short mouse lifespans but may be important on human lifespans.

      Of course, the genetic differences are there, too. The problems with the mouse model have always been interesting. -- Paul

    • Re:Another cure??? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lux ( 49200 )
      My theory is that it has to do with the relative life spans of humans and mice. Humans live about 40 years, as far as evolution is concerned. That means that the body needs to keep reproduction-threatening tumors from ocurring within the first twenty-five or so years of life. Everything after that gives diminishing returns on your fitness function.

      Compare with mice.

      So if medical science comes up with a hundred ways to cure cancer in rats, but it turns out that human tumors in vivo are already resistant t
    • Re:Another cure??? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by radtea ( 464814 )
      I'm always skeptical (and you should be too), when you hear about something that isn't even in clinical trials, as a possible cure for some disease people get.

      Yeah, and you should be even more skeptical when a group funded by people dedicated to immunological mechanisms for fighting cancer find a "miracle" cure that has all kinds of properties no one would ever expect, like, say, a single injection of short-lived white blood cells confering lifetime immunity from the most aggressive cancers.

      If it seems too
  • Good Idea/Bad Idea (Score:4, Informative)

    by kbonapart ( 645754 ) <lashan_lynn@yaho ... m minus language> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:34PM (#15295847)
    Okay, let's think about this for a second.

    A cancerous cell is one that doesn't know when to quit. It is outside the normal cell cycle, and not listening to every cell's built in death trigger. Forvige my lack of specific biology terminalogy.

    So these mice are "cancer-resistant"? When exposed to carcenigous, do they ignore them? When exposed to massive ammounts of UV light, do they tan but not burn? Do they burn but not get skin cancer? If you clogged thier lungs with cig smoke, would they develop a cough but not cancer?

    How the frak does this work? Are the little mice cells just really tuned into thier death trigger? When a cell mutates enough that it doesn't listen to it's death trigger, it is a cancer. Are these mice just impervious to cell mutation?

    If so, wouldn't that make them an evolutionary dead end? Cancer, while bad, is a by-product of evolution. If cells weren't allowed to ever mutate again, would that spell the end of mice evolution? And if we impart that "cancer-immunity" to we humans, would that spell the end of evolution?

    By all means, someone correct what I have wrong. Biology was never my strong suit. (Nor is spelling)
    • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:49PM (#15295986)
      The end of evolution is only a Bad Thing if you consider the capacity to adapt to your environment to be some kind of moral win.

      Humans, like a very small few other species, have the capacity to adapt our environment to suit us, rather than the other way around. No need to go through all that painful natural selection when we can build central heating, agriculture, and wheelchair ramps.
    • by BoredWolf ( 965951 ) <jakew.white@gmail.com> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:54PM (#15296039) Journal
      It's all in the title of the article... The white blood cells "recognize specific patterns on the cancer cell surface", and flag/attack them as they would any other foreign body. Biology wasn't my strong-suit either, but I would venture a guess that by knowing what sort of mechanism would lead to the white blood cells identifying cancerous/precancerous cells as a risk, the response could be adapted to work similarly (if not identically) in humans. Cancer is not a by-product of evolution, it is a result of malfunctioning cells which replicate uncontrollably. This is generally not a product of 'evolution' as you and I would think of it, but by some sort of damage to the cell which caused it to malfunction. It isn't so much a "death trigger" as replicating without purpose; when you no longer need skin cells at a certain location, and some mutated cell keeps replicating malfunctioning cells, you've got cancer. If your immune system cannot recognize something as a threat, it cannot respond to it, which appears to be the current predicament with cancer in humans.
      • Cancer is not a by-product of evolution

        True, although locally (at a tissue level), cancer is very much like natural selection: the failure to respond to inhibitory signals (via apoptosis), as well as uncontrolled replication give the cancerous cells a relative survival advantage or fitness over normal cells. In fact, this is how many cellular automata models model the spread of mutations through a tissue, even in tissues that maintain a constant cell population.

        Natural selection is particularly usefu

      • I disagree with you a little bit - mainly because I've read about what scientists think caused traits to "appear" in some creatures, like a third eye or something. Basically, something went crazy in the creatures cells, causing a break in or mutation in DNA, which then caused the new growth or whatever the case may be. As a result, this mutated creature was able to do something better than the rest of it's generation, and as a result lived longer, bred, and then passed the trait on. So, I do think Cancer
    • by chgros ( 690878 ) <charles-henri... ... hdot@@@m4x...org> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:04PM (#15296128) Homepage
      If so, wouldn't that make them an evolutionary dead end? Cancer, while bad, is a by-product of evolution. If cells weren't allowed to ever mutate again, would that spell the end of mice evolution?
      Mutations during meiosis are not cancer, so no cancer doesn't mean no evolution.
    • A better question is could this cause autoimmune problems? If it makes the immune system more sensitive could it increase you chances at Lupus, MS, and or arthritis?
      That is why I really hate biology. It is too complex. We need to to do a complete redesign! We need more isolation of functions and batter fault tolerance.
      Sounds like a good open source project.
    • No, their cells' DNA will still be damaged by various things (UV light, toxins, etc). The difference is that these mice have an additional protection mechanism against dangerously damaged cells. Within a cell there are already processes that operate during cell division to make sure the DNA is transcribed properly. In these mice the white blood cells act as a post-cellular division defense. If you think about it, the point of white blood cells is to eliminate foreign cells from your body. When a cell be
  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:34PM (#15295850)
    "The cancer resistance trait so far has been passed to more than 2,000 descendants in 14 generations"

    If you cure cancer, you get laid.
    • "If you cure cancer, you get laid."

      If a guy was somehow determined to be "cancer-resistant", imagine how many women would want to procreate with him so that their children would be immune to cancer. The guys that could be declared "cancer-resistant" could have women lining up down the street waiting for the guys to knock them up!
    • No, mice that are cancer-resistant get laid... by the way, has anybody ever heard any mice complaining of difficulty getting laid? Seems to me that if your a lab mouse, you either have another mouse of the appropriate gender in your cage, or you don't. If you do, you've got no problem. If you don't... well, why not work out your frustrations by running all day on that big rodent wheel?
  • Not for humans (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nstlgc ( 945418 )
    Sad thing is that it still isn't transferrable to humans. From what I've read, it also works for pigs, rats and mice, but not humans.. Oh well, give or take another 20 years, I've got time...
    • Re:Not for humans (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HotNeedleOfInquiry ( 598897 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:52PM (#15296020)
      A better question would be "Are there cancer resistant humans and we don't know about it?"

      I know that that there are no cancers on my mother's side of the family despite heavy smoking , coal mining and high-risk lifestyles. Perhaps there is cancer resistant strains of humans and we just don't know about it.
      • Re:Not for humans (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AuMatar ( 183847 )
        Quite possibly. They found the original resistant mouse when they injected him with cancer and he didn't die. We can't really do the same thing to humans, a minor issue of ethics stopping us.

        Although I do wonder- could you inject a cancer into a human tissue sample? Such as a small skin graft? If so, there might be a humane way to test for immunities, if you could find possible resistant families and get a volunteer. Of course the whole solution may just not work with humans making it all pointless.
      • It seems pretty clear that you can be predisposed to get cancer, so why not the reverse? Surely having the reverse of whatever factor (or combination of factors) that would cause person X to be more likely to get cancer would make you less likely to get the same cancer.

        The problem, as always, is finding those people. Nobody goes to the doctor because they *don't* have cancer. Or you could end up with people like my mother, who smoked her whole life and died of a cancer that can't be aquired from smoking. Wa
        • Re:Not for humans (Score:5, Interesting)

          by maxwells_deamon ( 221474 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:22PM (#15296805) Homepage
          We may actually be doing the experiment and not looking at the results.

          The article states that if an immune mouse gives white blood cells to a mouse with cancer the second mouse gets better.

          If we assume the same mutation exists in humans, we just need to do a statistical analysis of humans who have had spontaneous permanent cancer remissions after receiving a blood donation.

          A few more tests and we could cure a lot of cancer.
    • Re:Not for humans (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jamil Karim ( 931849 )
      Oh well, give or take another 20 years, I've got time...

      I wouldn't be so sure. My sister-in-law died of cancer at the ripe-old age of 25, and I'm sure there are many other slashdotters that personally knew someone who died of cancer prior to reaching 30.
  • by bgarcia ( 33222 )
    I for one welcome our new Immortal Mice Overlords...
  • by markov_chain ( 202465 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:39PM (#15295902) Homepage
    they are able to provide "lifetime cancer protection"

    I see, so the protection lasts right until they die... from cancer. I think Aleve can do this just as well :)

  • I, for one (Score:2, Funny)

    by sprag ( 38460 )
    welcome our cancer-resistant rodent overlords.
  • All that money spent in research, and all we come up is with better mice! Plus I don't think they care too much about having cancer.
  • by Paladine97 ( 467512 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:40PM (#15295915) Homepage
    Richard Gere is all smiles and breathing a sigh of relief.
  • by zymano ( 581466 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:45PM (#15295958)
    Telomerase structure has been identified.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4698264.stm [bbc.co.uk]
    • Telomerase is huge in oncology. Basically, there are two steps involved in generating cancer:

      1) Transformation, in which the cell begins to replicate outside of normal controls. You can get a tumour this way, but without step 2, the tumour doesn't get very far before the cells start to grow quiescent - they lose vitality and stop dividing.

      The reason they slow down is that their telomeres have degraded. Telomeres are long stretches of "junk" DNA at the end of each chromosome. Every cycle of DNA replication e
  • This is a rather remarkable finding, though very fortuitous (as many great discoveries are). The "cancer resistance" trait is heritable, so it can ultimately be mapped to specific gene(s) -- that is the most exciting finding, along with the fact that the physiological effect has already been mapped to white blood cells. This way, when the gene is discovered, both the mechanism of cancer resistance and the genetic basis for it will be readily discernable.
  • by NevarMore ( 248971 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @03:55PM (#15296046) Homepage Journal
    "... able to provide "lifetime cancer protection"."

    The article fails to mention that 'lifetime' can be greatly affected by the neighboring reptile obesity study.
  • Because if they did, wouldn't that just make life so easy. Either way, this is a fantastic step in the right direction. It looks like nature was able to do what our science has yet to accomplish.
  • by SB9876 ( 723368 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:08PM (#15296183)
    As exciting as this sounds, it's probably not going to lead to a pancea for cancer in humans. We've cured cancer in mice several times over since the 70s. The problem is that mice are a short-lived species that has very little innate resistance to cancer. After all evolution is not going to have an organism waste lots of energy repairing DNA damage and having pools of immune cells constantly checking for mutant cells if the organism is just going to get eaten by a cat in an average of a few months after birth.
        By contrast, humans are a very long-lived animal species. Our bodies already have a large number of cancer-prevention mechanisms that simply aren't present in mice. Take for example telomeres. The telomere ends of chromosomes shorten with each cell replication other than gamete formation. All your cells have what is known as the 'Hayflick limit' where the telomeres get too short, the chromosomes become unstable and the cell dies. Although this mechanism is probably one of the contributors to human aging, it also does a very good job of eliminating many tumors. Most of your tumors hit the Hayflick limit and simply die off before they can present a threat to you. Virtually all human cancers either mutate so as to find a way to reactivate the telomerase that re-lengthens the telomeres or manages to find a way to preserve their telomere ends through chromosomal recombination. Mouse cells, by way of contrast, have huge telomeres which never get short enough to act as this sort of cancer-prevention mechanism.
        As a result human tumors are much 'tougher' than mouse tumors. The average mouse tumor wouldn't stand a chance in a human. Any tumor that manages to thrive in a human has had to jump a host of hurdles and checkpoints that no mouse tumor does in order to simply survive.
        The problem is that many of these cancer cures in mice already exist in humans naturally. Some of these cures (such as this one, most likely) are simply reactivation of vestigial anti-cancer systems in the mice that have atrophied for the above-mentioned reasons. Others are cancer treatments that attack weaknesses in mouse tumors that are simply irrelevant in human ones. I suspect that this super mouse is simply being more human with regards to cancer and that the end result is that we'll rediscover something our bodies already do.

  • Now finally we'll see a decrease in senseless mouse deaths.

    Stewart Little

  • We're now breeding (nearly) immortal, cancer resistant, hyper-intelligent mice? Ones we can't even infiltrate when they rise up against us because they have a fool-proof way to tell us from their comrades -- they all GLOW IN THE DARK!

    This is brilliant thinking, truly brilliant...

  • by carrier lost ( 222597 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:17PM (#15296274) Homepage

    ...mice begin smoking filterless cigarettes with wild abandon.


  • ...doncha think?

    Actually, I hope these mice are TIGHTLY controlled. If they do get out into the general laboratory mouse population, it could really skew the results of many tests that may later be performed on humans.
  • by VinB ( 936538 )
    unfortunately, it has been found that it is a special chemical in the tail that provides the resistance.

    In other news, Scientist have teamed up with fashion designer Ralph Loren to test market special jeans and skirts with button-fly tail holes in the back.
  • Dosage (Score:2, Funny)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 )
    >> Cancer Resistant Mouse Provides Possible Cure

    Just dissolve one under your tongue every 8 hours...
  • by NereusRen ( 811533 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:33PM (#15296433)
    Fantastic! I am very excited about this development. Will there be an ergonomic model released to prevent me from getting RSI, too? Perhaps a cancer-resistant trackball is in order.

    ... oh. Nevermind.
  • by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <(wgrother) (at) (optonline.net)> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @07:50PM (#15297654) Journal
    ...how do they get all those mice to smoke tiny cigarettes?

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak