Dr. Wen-Zhu Zhang at the University of Tulsa has made an exciting discovery about the signaling pathway of lung cancer. Lung cancer is the most common cancer among American adults with nearly 1. 8 million new cases every year. The cause of the disease has been long understood. The discovery made by Dr. Zhang acting head of the Department of Chemistry Biochemistry within the University of Tulsa College of Science could serve as a tool to unlock better treatments for lung cancer.
How does cancer cells evade the natural protection mechanism of rhythmic breathing?
Cancer cells switch on their biological clock signaling pathway that if turned on too tightly can stress the cells to cell death at an excessive rate. Cancers have the ability to significantly increase their DNA damage capacity thanks to the rhythm of breathing and the production of extracellular structures called extracellular vesicles. Humans have the ability to increase blood vessel resistance by increasing the production of these vesicles but this may lead to toxic ways to promote tumor growth.
Dr. Zhang and his team at the University of Wyoming discovered that when lung cancer cells are exposed to high levels of extracellular vesicles they change their physiological behaviors by increasing the production of dopamine a hormone that reduces the activity of most other parts of the nervous system. In other words they were altering the rhythm of breathing to create a recovery for lung cancer cells in which their lung cells were lacking. Understanding this clock-like breathing is an important finding as it allows scientists to study the natural controls of normal tissue rebuilding.
Why is this important?
Few research teams have studied excess extracellular vesicle production at the bioaggressive rates observed in lung cancer cells. Oncologists must allow for a critical period during which tumor cells are seeded and released from invasive procedures to study the cells before they burst into action. This study significantly complies with current international guidelines and guidelines developed for leader- and follower-type lung cancers. It provides a unique opportunity to slow lung cancer tumor growth and also sheds new light on an understudied switching mechanism that may contribute to the rapidly spreading extent of lung cancer. All of this helps scientists begin to understand the biological role of cancer-associated extracellular vesicles as a potential therapeutic target.