Cellular recycling complexes may hold key to chemotherapy resistance

Upsetting the balance between protein synthesis, misfolding, and degradation drives cancer and neurodegeneration. Recent cancer treatments take advantage of this knowledge with a class of drugs that block protein degradation, known as proteasome inhibitors. Widespread resistance to these drugs limits their success, but Whitehead researchers have discovered a potential Achilles heel in resistance. With such understandings researchers may be able to target malignancy broadly, and more effectively. —> Read More

Brazilian Wasp’s Venom Could Be A Powerful ‘Weapon Against Cancer,’ Study Shows

Toxic, but life-saving?

It seems like an oxymoron, but scientists say the venom of Polybia paulista, a wasp native to Brazil, fits that description.

According to a study published in the Biophysical Journal this week, the wasp’s venom contains a toxin, named MP1, that selectively destroys tumor cells without harming normal ones. The BBC called the venom a potentially powerful “weapon against cancer.”

In lab tests, MP1 was found to inhibit the growth of prostate and bladder cancer cells as well as leukemia cells that had been shown to be resistant to a variety of other drugs.

The toxin interacts with fatty molecules known as lipids that are found on the outside of cancer cell membranes, researchers said. It then disrupts the structure of the protective membranes, creating “gaping holes” that allow molecules critical to the survival of the cancer cell to leak out.

Study co-author Dr. João Neto of Brazil’s São Paulo State University said these “large” holes take “only seconds” to form.

Since healthy cells don’t have these lipids on the outside (they are located on the cell’s inner membrane), it seems they are not susceptible to the wasp toxin the way cancer cells are.

“Cancer therapies that attack the lipid composition of the cell membrane would be an entirely new class of anticancer drugs,” Paul Beales, one of the study’s authors, stated in a news release. “This could be useful in developing new combination therapies, where multiple drugs are used simultaneously to treat a cancer by attacking different parts of the cancer cells at the same time.”

Though the use of the wasp’s venom as a treatment option is an exciting possibility, it still remains theoretical.

Beales, of the University of Leeds in the U.K., and his team said more research needs to be done —> Read More

New international standards needed to manage ocean noise

As governments and industries expand their use of high-decibel seismic surveys to explore the ocean bottom for resources, experts from eight universities or organizations say new global standards and mitigation strategies are needed to minimize the amount of sound the surveys produce and reduce risks posed to vulnerable marine life, especially in formerly unexploited areas such as the Arctic Ocean and US Atlantic coast now targeted for exploration. —> Read More

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