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Slowing Cancer with the Biological Clock

Posted on Feb. 28, 2017, 6 a.m. in Cancer

Researchers have figured out a way to alter the circadian clock of cancer cells to slow the growth of cancerous tumors.

Scientists are keying in on the biological clock of cancer cells to hinder the growth of tumors. A recent study conducted by researchers at Montreal's McGill University shows that targeting this biological clock really does mitigate the growth of cancer.

About the Study

Just about every cell within the human body has an internal clock that establishes a rhythm for organ activities according to the time of the day. The internal clock within cancer cells either malfunctions or fails to function at all. The above-referenced scientists figured out a way to alter the circadian clock of cancer cells to slow the growth of cancerous tumors. These researchers noticed that such a malfunctioning clock played a role in hastening tumor growth. However, there wasn't plain-sight proof of such a phenomenon.

The McGill University research team made use of a thermic or chemical treatment to repair the internal clocks of cancer cells and restore them to normal functioning. These conditions allowed for the tumor growth rate to be cut in half. The scientists altered the internal clocks in different types of cancer cells within mice to help them function properly. It is assumed that similar alterations can be made with cancer cells in humans.

The Importance of the Research

Chopping a cancer cell's tumor growth rate in half is quite the accomplishment. The McGill University scientists adjusted colon and skin cancer cells within a week's time. After a single week, tumors were reduced to one-third of the size of a normal tumor.

It is clear that activating the biological clock of tumors is quite the innovative approach to hindering their growth rate and/or that of metastases. Such a breakthrough will provide people with additional time to make use of more traditional cancer treatment modalities like chemotherapy or surgery.

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Silke Kiessling, Lou Beaulieu-Laroche, Ian D. Blum, Dominic Landgraf, David K. Welsh, Kai-Florian Storch, Nathalie Labrecque, Nicolas Cermakian. Enhancing circadian clock function in cancer cells inhibits tumor growth. BMC Biology, 2017; 15 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12915-017-0349-7

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