Norway to the future
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Helping cells to die
Another tip-off from our excellent national public radio P2 on research currently in progress at Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen: Karl Johan Tronstad, PhD is working on modified tetradecylthioacetic (3-Thia) fatty acid effects on programmed cell death. Fatty acids function as structural components of cells, serve as metabolic fuel for mitocondria, and participate in intracellular singaling. Some fatty acids, like Omega-3 have been found to have a positive effect on the health of humans.
Mitocondira are the power plants of our cells. They use the oxygene we breathe to metabolize sugar and fat into energy the cell can use, but recent research has shown that they play a significant role in the programmed death of the cell as well. Every cell in our body is programmed to die after a certain period of time, but mutations and failures can cause the cell to fail to self destruct. Cell death requires energy, and if the mitocondria are damaged, the cell may not be able to initiate the disassembling procedures, and this can lead to cancer. The goal of the research on the modified 3-Thia acid is to be able to increase the energy production in the mitocondria, and as such help the body to kill cells when it is time. The acid has been sucessfully tested on animals and humans wihtout adverse effects, and testing is now on the way to clinical trials on leukemia patients. While not a revolutionary cure for cancer, this treatment can increase the life quality and expectancy of many people.
For more information, you can read a paper by the research group on Modified fatty acids and their possible therapeutic targets in malignant diseases.
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