CANCER

Long unwinding road to cancer treatment

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Science  27 Jun 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6191, pp. 1477
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6191.1477-b

Cancer chemotherapy is infamous for harming healthy cells. This collateral damage causes the side effects that range from unpleasant (such as hair loss) to life-threatening (such increased susceptibility to infection). They can be particularly devastating for elderly patients. Promising new data may one day lead to a safer treatment for a type of acute myeloid leukemia, which first strikes patients at age 66, on average. Mazurek et al. found that when they blocked mouse genes from expressing an enzyme called DDX5, the leukemia cells died, but healthy bone-marrow cells were unharmed. DDX5 made the cancer cells proliferate; inhibiting DDX5 made the cells accumulate toxic molecules called reactive oxygen species, which contributed to cancer cell death.

Cell Rep. 7, 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.05.010 (2014).

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