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Using Enzymes To Counter Cancer Growth 41

sylvester22 writes to mention a Mercury News article about a possible breakthrough in cancer research from a research group in Oakland. Dr. Julie Saba and her team at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute are working with 'lyase,' an intestinal enzyme that apparently can inhibit cancer growth. The problem is that this enzyme is almost never found after a growth has become active. From the article: "Using cells in a tissue culture Saba said she and her team 'have been able to turn-on the enzyme after cancer cell growth had occurred.' The researchers found that re-introducing the enzyme made chemotherapy more effective in tissue cultures. 'Although we're beginning our studies in colon cancer, we believe our research findings will have a direct impact on investigations for other cancers, including pediatric cancers,' said Saba."
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Using Enzymes To Counter Cancer Growth

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  • From TFA:

    Though many people fear cancer, Saba, `Queen of the Lyase,` may yet protect us all; `Don't worry, don't get overwhelmed,` she said, `there are lots of us working on it, and sooner or later we will have it figured out.`

    Queen of the Lyase?? How cool is that? Seems to me like Dr. Saba should have been on this list [].

    • by kypper ( 446750 )
      I've been trying to get my lab to call me "Sybr" (pronounced Cyber) because all I do is real-time PCR with Roche's FastStart DNA MasterPLUS SYBR Green.

      We scientists are geekier than anyone had imagined.
    • I consider it an outrage that I've been quietly multiclassing my very own 'Saba, Queen of the Lyase' into a Half-elven Level 10/6 Fighter/Arcane Archer for years without a whit of recognition. And now this!
      • And yet, come to think of it, that's probably because I failed to take the requisite levels of an arcane spellcasting class before attempting the Arcane Archer prestige class. Whoops!
  • Congratulations! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pimpimpim ( 811140 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @07:27AM (#16972818)
    You have just published the millionst breaktrough against cancer/HIV/terrorism-related-danger! Click on the link below and win lots of prizes!

    Sorry, people, I'm all in favor of scientific advances, and I know that this is the way to get funding, but who still takes these titles seriously? Cancer would've been cured 40 years ago if we would've believed the newspaper messages that promised us these breakthroughs. Point is, it doesn't work this way, everyone knows it, so stop pretending! Also, just think about all the people that have cancer or people close to them that have cancer. Why give them false hope every time?

    • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @07:45AM (#16972916) Homepage
      You got half the way to the right point without making it. I hope you do not mind if I do it for you.

      It is quite appalling that a news site which is oriented towards geeks publishes links to newspaper pseudonews bollocks without publishing links to the original articles and original peer reviewed research. Frankly, that is not news for nerds. It is news for Sun readers (and the like).

      Is it that damn difficult to do some digging before publishing on Slashdot?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Dhalka226 ( 559740 )

        Is it that damn difficult to do some digging before publishing on Slashdot?

        Am I the only one who snickered at this?

        Digg it!

      • by bwcarty ( 660606 )
        Is it that damn difficult to do some digging before publishing on Slashdot?

        Survey says....yes! Given the choice between having things right or having them right now, more people seem to be choosing the latter.

        Oh, and if we're going to be digging before publishing on Slashdot, does that mean we can Slashdot before articles get cross posted to Digg?
      • Thank you for finishing my point :) I have to admit I didn't actually read the article to check for peer reviewed research, etc. But that's just because I'm just as pissed of with these 'scientific breakthroughs' as the average slashdot reader is with 'the next iPod killer'. And those iPod killers will actually be produced and sold, whereas these new anti-cancer methods might be deemed impractical before ever tried out in-vivo.
  • That's really terrible. Kids shouldn't have to go through that kind of shit.
  • not for the breakthrough.. for the fourth reply of course.. something better than nothing
  • Breakthrough? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jenik ( 1030872 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @07:55AM (#16972966)
    Unfortunately, there are many, many enzymes and proteins that are downregulated or mutated in cancer cells and most of them have been known for ages (p53 [], rb... tumor suppresors). The problem is that turning a gene on is not that easy in vivo. If everything that worked in cell culture worked in human patients there wouldn't be any more uncurable diseases.
    • by kypper ( 446750 )
      p53 is upregulated in so many different ways, too, and nobody's sure what the predominant pathway is. Nature has been churning out these like clockwork for the past few years.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @08:28AM (#16973102)
    It's nice that this works fine in the lab, but the problem is that cancer is not some disease, where you suffer from externally applied poisons (like the waste products of bacteria or fungi that infected you). And while it shares some similarities with a viral infection (your cells going bonkers), you can't attack the virus for there is none. You are actually attacking the body's own cells.

    Unfortunately, pretty much everything that affects cancer cells also affect the rest of the body. Simply because they ARE in fact body cells. Body cells gone banana, but still cells of the body.

    So it's nice that we found (yet again, I have to add) something that affects cancer cells, the key question with all cancer research is, though, how does it affect the body surrounding them?
    • This is true, but the point of this is that the particular lyase being investigated is present normally, but inhibited by cancers. Hopefully, then, it won't have a large adverse effect if added to the body, or at least be better than current methods.
      It should of course be noted evolutionary principles apply just as equally to cancers as to the host; a mutation that favours its own proliferation will naturally be proliferated - so in the case of a cancer, a mutation such as this inhibitor will be beneficial
  • Here are some sources from 2 Journals one by Dr. Saba and others 384 [] and this one that seems to support the view on Lyase increasing sensitivity to Cisplatin chemotherapy for Lung Cancer /5/287 []
  • ...[A]s the body is damaged by everyday wear, aging, improper diet, contact with substances known to damage the body, such as tobacco or toxic chemicals, etc., the body begins to heal itself with cells, to some extent, made up of [stem] cells. Under normal conditions, when the healing is complete, the immune system "turns off" the [stem] cells and stops what would otherwise be an overgrowth of these cells -- a condition we would label cancer -- by the use of pancreatic enzymes.

    One of these days, the stem

    • [And for those that study enzymems, they will find that a poor diet causes the body's enzymes to get real stressed out. Digestion is hard on the body, which is why calorie restriction improves lifespan. But when a steady diet of junk food is eaten, the body works so hard trying to digest it, important enzymes that help repair the body decrease. The pieces of the puzzle are all there, it is just a matter of getting the big picture. -- Transporter_ii]

      From the Lancet:

      "In many [western] countries, peoples' diet
    • by jenik ( 1030872 )
      Not sure where the quote comes from but IAABAD(biochemist and doctor) and I have never heard of the immune system using pancreatic enzymes to turn off stem cells' growth. Also, overgrowth of normal cells is not cancer, it is for example a wart or freckle. The word "enzyme" in your post is used somewhat non-specifically - indeed, it is easy to kill cells by blocking their enzymes but how do you distinguish between normal and cancer cells? This is also the reason why the immune system is relatively inefficie
      • The reason you get cancer is (VERY generally speaking) not because your body is stressed but because DNA replication and repair is not perfect. It leads to mutations which, in a VERY VERY unlikely event, create immortal and invasive cell lines we clinically call cancer.

        Well, you being a biochemist and doctor, I highly doubt that anything I say is going to sway your opinion...but, no offense, instead of seeing cancer as having a single cause (e.g. DNA replication and repair leads to mutations), I see it as

      • indeed, it is easy to kill cells by blocking their enzymes but how do you distinguish between normal and cancer cells?

        The point I was trying to make wasn't that cancer is killed by blocking enzymes, it is that there are a lack of key enzymes that let the cancer grow in the first place, and these enzymes are the body's normal defense against cancer to begin with, so they already know how to distinguish between normal cells and cancer cells.

        Cancer happens a lot where the body is constantly being damaged a

        • Two months ago, my 8 years old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia (High-Risk T-Cell ALL).

          she is a vegetarian by choice from when she started eating solid foods. she loves animals, and would not even hurt a spider if she finds one in the house she would pick it up and put it outside.

          we (and she) only eat organic fruits/vegetables/dairy, and she was nursed till she was 3 1/2 years old.

          she never ate any "junk food", sugars, cookies/cakes, ice cream, soda, juices, chocolate, fried foods, etc. at birthday part
          • I'm really sorry to hear about your daughter. I have no explanation for it...but at one point I studied alternative cancer treatments fairly heavily for many years. My job has changed so much that a lot of the free time I used to have has vanished, though, so I don't get to follow it as closely as I used to.

            Many years of research led me to believe that diet and lifestyle play a large role in cancer. But the whole issue is really tricky. Personally, I became a vegan, lost a ton of weight, and felt better tha
            • Thanks,

              Thanks for the info, I will look into the links you provided, however, my wife, who until now never trusted doctors, and was mostly using homeopathy and acupuncture, now will not do anything without the blessing of my daughter's doctor. she will not even give zinc, or anti-oxidant supplements (which I researched and found out that they should help with chemo and/or side effects). she is so freaked out right now.

              My daughter was just admitted again, she is so weak that they could not continue with the
          • > Still, she got the leukemia. go figure.

            One thing I didn't think about until later on today is the bovine leukemia virus, since you specifically mentioned dairy:

            The scariest virus is probably bovine leukemia virus (BLV). It was shown years ago that chimpanzees fed milk from leukemic cows from birth died of leukemia in the first year of life. Between 10-70% of the cows in the US are infected with BLV and approximately 60% of the herds surveyed similarly infected. BLV has been linked to acute lymphoi

            • Thanks, will look into BLV, however, even if this is how she got the leukemia, anything that can be done about BLV now?

  • And here I am still in my undergrad. I want to get into research, dammit! I mean, just yesterday, that discovery about human genetics rendered my Mendelian genetics class obsolete. At this rate by the time I have my honours degree we'll be bioengineering whole organs and knocking down genetic diseases like flies.
  • Recovering from yet another surgery for skin cancer, I was thinking a while back how nice it would be to have some sort of salve that, when applied to skin cancer, would stop the growth and allow the skin to heal itself. This would certainly beat the hell out of having chunks of tissue removed every few years. I'm starting to look like 'The Monster' but my grand kids still love me.

    Perhaps this enzyme research, combined with others, will eventually lead to good things for all who suffer from cancers but I'm
  • As a cancer victim myself (non-hodgekins lymphoma) I welcome any news that promises a potential cure for any type of cancer. The cure for one type of cancer can be modified for other types as well. I'm currently undergoing chemotherapy, and then a Bone Marrow Transplant, and I have to say, it SUCKS SHIT to have to go through it. If this had been discovered 5 yrs ago, I probably wouldn't have had a need for harmful chemotherapy drugs.
  • If slashdot was a technical crowd that likes highly detailed information, I would recommend that whenever a post is related to a publication in a peer reviewed scientific journal, there should be a link to it and the title should be stated. In this case, the Queen of Lyase recently published a paper []called Sphingosine-1-phosphate lyase potentiates apoptosis via p53- and p38-dependent pathways and is down-regulated in colon cancer in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, or PNAS for short. It d

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen