RESEARCH CARRIED OUT BY CHILEAN SCIENTISTS ACHIEVED IMPORTANT PROGRESS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST GASTRIC CANCER
The study analyzed the behavior of tumor cells and what would be the factors that cause their rapid proliferation and spread throughout the body. With this, the possibility of looking for new therapies to counteract this disease opens up.
«My dream is that this could be one more therapy to fight cancer.» With these words, the doctor in Biological Sciences and researcher of the Millennium Nucleus MiNuSPain, Claudio Coddou, referred to his latest publication related to an extracellular phenomenon that could shed light on the fight against the proliferation and progression of gastric cancer. Disease for which more than 5 thousand cases are reported annually in Chile, being the main cause of death related to malignant tumors in our country.
In the research, recently published in the journal Pharmaceutics, and in which the research group from the Universidad Católica del Norte in Coquimbo participated together with the team of Dr. Francisco Vázquez-Cuevas from the Institute of Neurobiology of the National Autonomous Universidad de México, analyzed the behavior of different purinergic receptors, and one of the possible consequences of the secretion of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and other nucleotides related to the extracellular environment. What is this and what is its relationship to cancer? Before, it is necessary to explain what purinergic signaling means in cellular behavior.
In 1972, the British neurobiologist Geoffrey Burnstock suggested that ATP, in addition to its effects as an energy source in various intracellular processes, could act as a signaling molecule in the external environment. That is, ATP can leave the cell and perform functions other than metabolic tasks in bioenergetics. This ability of ATP and other nucleotides to act at the extracellular level is what was called «purinergic signaling.»
«One of his first theories was precisely in the digestive system, where he noticed that there was an effect that was mediated neither by norepinephrine nor by acetylcholine, which are the classic transmitters of these systems,» Coddou details in this regard.
To develop this research in the future, Coddou specified that tests should continue on the expression and characteristics of these receptors in the digestive system. He also adds that cancer can manifest itself in multiple ways, so it must be analyzed whether these expression profiles manifest in the same way in all people.
This therapeutic approach, based on the expression of biomarkers, is something commonly observed in targeted molecular therapy for cancer, or target therapy. There, for example, a treatment with monoclonal antibodies against the HER2 receptor is indicated in patients who present a significant overexpression of said receptor. This strategy allows adequate therapy to meet the specific needs of each patient.
Cancer-related pain is also a path that could be opened with this research, since the increase in cellular metabolism, and consequently the growth of the tumor, «produces a greater release of ATP to the extracellular environment, which can stimulate the receptors purinergics that are also present in primary afferent neurons, which stimulate sensory neurons related to cancer pain ”, Coddou projected.