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Cancer Resembles Life 1 Billion Years Ago

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the not-so-safe-mode dept.

Biotech 223

An anonymous reader writes "What is cancer? It's not an invader; it's spawned from our own bodies. And it bears striking resemblance to early multicellular life from 1 billion years ago. This has led astrobiologists and cosmologists Paul Davies and Charlie Lineweaver to suggest that cancer is driven by primitive genes that govern cellular cooperation (abstract), and which kick in when our more recently evolved genes that keep them in check break down. So, far from being rogue cells that mutate out of control, cancers are actually cells that revert to a more ancient level of programming, like booting in Safe Mode. The good news is this means cancers have only finite variation. Once we figure out the ancient genes, we'll know how it works. It's unlikely to evolve any new defense mechanisms, meaning curing cancer might be not quite as mammoth a task as commonly thought."

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Socio-political summary.. (-1, Troll)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173812)

Sure seemed like the poster was talking about the Republicans as Cancer....

Re:Socio-political summary.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35174150)

Fuck off, why do your kind have to politicize everything that you see?

Re:Socio-political summary.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35175342)

Fuck off. He was trying to illustrate how Republicans born in July (in the sign of "Cancer") are the poster child for talking.
he was just trying to say they talk a lot. why must YOU politicize everything?

Re:Socio-political summary.. (-1, Offtopic)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174280)

Sure seemed like the poster was talking about the Republicans as Cancer....

More like the monarchy is cancer and republicans the cure

Re:Socio-political summary.. (1, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174344)

You are a mindless jerk.

wow (1)

Denihil (1208200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173838)

this is awesome. less permutations of cancer = more chance of me living to be 400 years old! here's hopin!

Re:wow (2)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173920)

Do you really think you'll still be in a cancer-prone human body for most of the span until the 400th birthday you hope for. I'm not as optimistic about the Singularity as Ray Kurzweil and similar futurists (though Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near [amazon.com] is thought-provoking), but surely sometime within the next century or so we will have moved beyond biology. So, you only need miracle cures that get you that far.

Re:wow (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174342)

surely sometime within the next century or so we will have moved beyond biology

Whaaaa? Where did you get that idea? Also, do you really think that even if you copied your consciousness to a machine that it would still be you? It will be a copy, and "you" will die anyway. I saw someone once mention the idea of replacing neurons one at a time with digital equivalents.. that might work to retain your consciousness while moving away from biology, but it would be almost impossible to do..

Re:wow (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174494)

Semantic bullshit. Whether something is copied instantly as a whole or a small amount at a time is completely immaterial. It's still a copy. Considering that all human tissue is replaced roughly every seven years, we're all 'copies' of ourselves already. It doesn't matter if a neuron storing information is the same neuron that received it a decade ago. It similarly doesn't matter if it's not a neuron at all. What matters is the information and the consciousness to act on it.

Re:wow (2)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175074)

While we are technically a copy of our former selves it doesn't feel that way. If you could - without turning off the brain - take out each part, piece by piece and replace it with something so convincing that the brain accepted it as part of itself then you would never realise that you had become a robot.

However if you built a robot with all your memories, emotions, thoughts and personality then no matter how accurate it was there is no way to transfer the you-ness of you - the real you, the soul or whatever - into the machine. It may think, feel and act exactly like you but there would be no way to experience it. If you were gradually transformed then the "you" experiencing it would never stop experiencing. By the time you are totally changed it would no longer be the original you, but only in the same way that your current body isn't the original you - from your point of view it would still be you.

Re:wow (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175116)

Still, I'm happy with my brain being replaced piece by piece, as I continue being me. If you create a copy and destroy the original, I will no longer be me. Me will be a different I. This I wants to stay in existence while it can. If you only think of yourself in terms of you external actions that's fine, you can be happy destroying your current consciousness and letting a different consciousness continue to be you. Of course if you believe in things like souls then you probably don't really care what state your body takes.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35175348)

Maybe the way our universe works, every 10 minutes the state of every particle is stored 'somewhere', the universe destroyed, and a new universe recreated from the stored state. Then every 10 minutes you will be a different you. Does that make you unhappy?

Re:wow (3, Interesting)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175364)

It's called the duplicates paradox [benbest.com] or sometimes the transporter paradox. If you get duplicated and then the original is destroyed, there isn't a continuity of consciousness. You seem to have completely missed this in order to make your point about biological renewal.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35175096)

Do you think the "you" today is the same as the "you" yesterday? I have some bad news for you, that foot long 5$ you ate at Subways yesterday is "you" today. The "you" from yesterday is rollercoasting in your city's sewage lines today.

Re:wow (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175334)

I'm quite happy with that, I'm talking about my apparently unbroken stream of consciousness, not the body that results in that consciousness. Creating a copy and destroying the current stream may not give any noticeable difference to outsiders, but it sure as hell would be annoying for the current me, if I were still around to be annoyed about it.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35174400)

We don't even have flying cars yet. There's no way in hell we're "moving beyond biology" when biology has had a billion year head-start on us on development.

Re:wow (2)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174528)

One day this talk of the Singularity and downloading our minds into machines will be viewed the way we currently view alchemy and orgone healing boxes.

Futurists sell books. Warning: actual future may vary.

Re:wow (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174760)

One day this talk of the Singularity and downloading our minds into machines will be viewed the way we currently view alchemy and orgone healing boxes.

And people who think they can predict the future?

Re:wow (1)

StuckInSyrup (745480) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174824)

Same was said about trips to the moon, back in the time.
Not to say you're wrong, just adding "We will see.".

Re:wow (1)

nickrw (1958032) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173940)

Cancer is what causes human aging? Wow, you learn something new every day!

Re:wow (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35174194)

No, but cancer is what kills 25% of humans.

Re:wow (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174354)

this is awesome. less permutations of cancer = more chance of me living to be 400 years old! here's hopin!

Are you hoping to turn into some kind of Leonard Betts?

Re:wow (2)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174960)

Are you hoping to turn into some kind of Leonard Betts?

I'm thinking more along the lines of Lazarus Long.

mod up! (1)

tkprit (8581) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175234)

LOL, please!

Re:wow (3, Interesting)

jouassou (1854178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174542)

Especially since curing cancer would allow Telomerase treatments to increase our lifespan artificially.
From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :
"The enzyme telomerase allows for replacement of short bits of DNA known as telomeres, which are otherwise shortened when a cell divides via mitosis. "In normal circumstances, without the presence of telomerase, if a cell divides recursively, at some point all the progeny will reach their Hayflick limit.[13] With the presence of telomerase, each dividing cell can replace the lost bit of DNA, and any single cell can then divide unbounded. While this unbounded growth property has excited many researchers, caution is warranted in exploiting this property, as exactly this same unbounded growth is a crucial step in enabling cancerous growth."

giants (2, Interesting)

Velex (120469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173858)

It's unlikely to evolve any new defense mechanisms, meaning curing cancer might be not quite as mammoth a task as commonly thought.

nanos gigantium humeris insidentes

Yeah Right. (3, Insightful)

Massacrifice (249974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173932)

Astrobiologists doing cancer "research"? Half of the submission is written as if they had cancer already nailed down, while the rest of it implies that they merely had this great idea, while looking at the stars after smoking some of the good stuff. If there are no experiments, hard results, conclusive evidence, well pfew, it's not news that matter. I make up a dozen theories like this per day.

Re:Yeah Right. (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174154)

[...] they merely had this great idea, while looking at Stargate after smoking some of the good stuff.

FTFY. They were probably discussing 'what if the ancient gene was real', and the rest followed naturally by means of said good stuff and some randomness... Indeed a fairly common conversation type for stoner-geeks. :)

Re:Yeah Right. (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174436)

I believe it would be a step in the right direction if any Astrobiologists, or possibly Geneticists were to work on a gene therapy that would repair the ends of the Chromosomes where gene damage most times occurs. I personally would love to see Cancer, DNA Viruses, and RNA Viruses cured on a 'Out Patient' basics.

Re:Yeah Right. (1)

Bardez (915334) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174484)

Or what-if-the-common-cold-killed-the-Ancients-and-we-all-have-the-survivor's-almost-immunity pre-season 6 or 9 (whenever they really explained what was supposed to have done it)

Re:Yeah Right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35174534)

Nevertheless, it's still an interesting idea. Someone somewhere has to come up with an idea before there can be experiments, hard results and conclusive evidence. At the very least it gave me something to think about on a Friday morning.

Re:Yeah Right. (5, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175142)

they merely had this great idea, while looking at the stars after smoking some of the good stuff.

Their entire "theory" boils down to this: "We think that the tumours that develop in cancer patients today take the same form as these simple cellular structures did more than a billion years ago,” he said. ("but we have no particular reason to believe that", he added quietly.)

There is simply no basis for their claim other than "cars are a means of transportation, planes are a means of transportation, so maybe cars are planes after they've landed". I mean, "cancers are loose aggregations of cells, early metazooans were probably loose aggregations of cells, so maybe cancers are early metazooans resurfacing in your body."

Everything we know about the detailed genetics of cancer--which is quite a lot--suggests this is nonsense. If this were the case we'd expect to see far more genetic similarity between cancers than we do, as the hypothesis implies ancient conserved mechanisms for which there is no sign in the genomics of cancer. Cancer is a diverse disease, and while we are making steady progress against it there are fundamental mechanisms that are still poorly understood because they are complicated. The role of various micro-RNAs in particular is only now becoming clear, for example.

The fundamental complexity of the disease is exactly what you would expect if it metazooan life was pulling off a complex and delicate balancing act that can go wrong in multiple ways, and humans had been subject to intense selective pressure for longer lives due to the advantage to a social primate with both representational and operational intelligence of having a few grandparents around in your kin-group. Human cancers are ferociously complex compared to most other species, which is exactly what you would not expect based on this hypothesis that all cancers in all species are pretty much similar at root.

Their "advice" to researchers to focus on what amount to tumour supressor genes would be important if this was 1990.

The genius here is all marketing, not science. They have managed to get an idiotic idea that has zero utility to anyone working on the genetics of cancer quite widely disseminated. That's pretty clever. I only wish the scientists who are in the trenches doing detailed experimental investigations of actual cancer mechanisms were half as good at promoting their thankless and difficult work as these clowns are. Their hypothesis would make a great science fiction story. Unfortunately, that's not the way they've chosen to promote it.

Re:Yeah Right. (0)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175226)

I make up a dozen theories like this per day.

No, you don't, you arrogant [censored]. This is a very interesting hypothesis, that, if confirmed, could have a big impact on the future of cancer research. You know, not all scientific publications have to contain thorough empirical confirmations of proposed hypotheses -- science would advance much slower if this were the case.

In summary, what the hell is your point?

Safe mode? (1)

Phoshi (1857806) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173936)

I mean, I understand you're trying to reach out to nerds, but since when was safe mode "More ancient programming" rather than just a mode where you only load the absolute minimum required to function?

Re:Safe mode? (1)

ifrag (984323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174212)

Well, the Safe Mode video driver does feel somewhat ancient at least. 256 colors and screen blitting you can time on a stopwatch.

Anyway, the analogy is totally ridiculous as is. Safe Mode actually performs a desirable function (when needed) within the system. I don't think the same can be said for cancer.

Re:Safe mode? (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174556)

The life as a whole it doesn't perform a valuable function, but the individual cells that turn cancerous might have been about to die from some other cause when they revert. And that makes sense, cancer is made more likely by genetic damage, perhaps the cells are becoming cancerous when there is some piece or another of genetic code that is damaged beyond repair so the cell reverts to a simpler set of instructions that perform a similar role. A set which, unfortunately, lacks such handy things as communications channels and programmed cell death.

Kind of like if Windows can't find a file that it needs to boot normally, so it boots into safe mode so you can fix the problem. Except, this safe mode doesn't have a display driver, keyboard support, or Ethernet support... and it causes the computer to reproduce out of control. So the analogy isn't perfect, but no one ever said analogies had to be.

Re:Safe mode? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35174364)

So cancer = cellular safe mode?

Sure explains alot about MS Windows.

Re:Safe mode? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35174612)

When computers began, there wasn't a "safe mode" because by default, the computer would only load up the absolute minimum required to function. Anything more than that, and you had to explicitly start it yourself. As computers evolved, more things were done automatically, and the need for a "Safe Mode" developed. They seem to be, IMHO, trying to describe a similar evolution in the human body. This makes perfect sense when you stop getting your panties in a bunch over the 'words' they used, and actually think about the concepts logically.

For the love of god, give it a rest (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35173950)

booting in Safe Mode.

Is it possible for you people to wipe your butts without using some half-assed, fallacious computer analogy? Is this all the bazaar has done for you?

Re:For the love of god, give it a rest (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174380)

Of course not. Maintenance of garbage collection capability is a key part of the daily control loop for any sentient humanoid program.

not so easy (2)

La Gris (531858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35173984)

The summary look like curing cancer is a matter of very simple solution. I doubt this.

Even if cancer behavior rely on primitive gene programming. There where billion years of incremental evolution build and re-factored over that, I firmly doubt it is a matter of turning on/off or stripping out some cytochrome block cancerous cells from forming/growing.

Re:not so easy (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174134)

Of course. Didn't you see Piranha 3D? Modern life is no match for the prehistoric piranhas once they are released by an earthquake.

Re:not so easy (4, Insightful)

Ponder Stibions (962426) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174318)

This is exactly the problem: our genes are like Windows, they just keep adding stuff and patching up the old code, and never start fresh. You never know what you'll break by patching the latest issue...

Re:not so easy (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175020)

Don't worry. We can cure cancer by injecting you with this Gene Patch. Wait... why are you turning blue?

Re:not so easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35175086)

This is exactly the problem: our genes are like Windows, they just keep adding stuff and patching up the old code, and never start fresh. You never know what you'll break by patching the latest issue...

So it's safe to say the "old" genes had an infinite loop, and the "new" genes were patches to close these loops.

God initially programmed us to live forever, but found the open loop concept actually caused our bodies to die faster. It wasn't properly tested, because God's boss wanted it done in 7 days. Knowing he would fail to deliver a properly working product, and not subscribing to the ship early, ship often model, God decided to make the bodies solid, well functioning, but reduce the lifespan/performance.

Re:not so easy (1)

pokyo (1987720) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175098)

Thanks for comparing my body with MS Windows. I will never feel at ease again.

Re:not so easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35175178)

Like Windows, you say? Because Linux was started over from scratch only 2 years ago, right?

Re:not so easy (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174496)

The summary look like curing cancer is a matter of very simple solution. I doubt this.

A small story:
The king summoned all of his scientists and told them he had a great idea how to beat the kingdom's sea-ferring enemies. "I suggest," he said "that when our enemies come with their ships, we lower the sea level by a few meters. This way all their ships will crush on the sea floor. When we raise the sea level again, all of their soldiers will drawn and we will win."
All the scientists said it was a great idea, but how the hell do you lower the sea level by a few meters?
"I don't know," replied the king "I think of the ideas, it is your job to make them work".

Re:not so easy (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175288)

Lowering the seal level as a cure all? Impossible! what were they thinking. Now if he said "lower the taxes" then he would be talking. At present in America almost every one agrees, the panacea for whatever ails America is to lower the taxes.

Re:not so easy (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175372)

Besides, this hypothesis requires that you believe in evolution. As a firm believer that cancer was created by God on the 6th day, I can't accept that it will lead anywhere but to hell.

We have to want to cure cancer first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35174000)

Cancer treatment is a trillion dollar industry. Corporations don't want very quickly go from that to 0 overnight.

Find a cure for that, then you will find a cure for cancer. In other words, cancer is here to stay for a very long time. 'Cures' will be engineered to be 'treatments'.

Re:We have to want to cure cancer first (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174526)

Cancer keeps happening, if patients keep getting it, like the common cold, then Pharmacies will always have a supply of customers. For example, a Superbowl commercial could look like, "Oh, something for your Cancer? Isle 3, next to the Advil, fourth shelf down. Hand have a nice day."

Re:We have to want to cure cancer first (1)

bobbuck (675253) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174702)

Yeah, I'm sure that's what they're thinking. It's not like they could find other things to sell to people living longer. Geesh.

DCA - Dichloroacetate (NOT Dichloroacetic acid) (1, Informative)

ninejaguar (517729) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174006)

Dichloroacetate (DCA) is a cheap, un-patentable, drug (essentially 1vinegar molecule+2chlorine atoms) currently used to treat a rare enzyme disorder in children, but researchers have found it useful in allowing cancer cells to learn how to kill themselves with reasonably acceptable temporary side effects. See "DCA and How It Works" below.

There is almost no funding for this drug study due to it being un-patentable despite quite encouraging results, and reasonably acceptable and reversible side-effects.

Recent human trial reported here:
http://www.medindia.net/news/Dichloroacetate-Effective-Against-Aggressive-Brain-Cancer-68867-1.htm [medindia.net]

Initial news from a couple of years ago...

http://www.dca.med.ualberta.ca/Home/index.cfm [ualberta.ca]
http://www.newscientist.com/channel/health/mg19325874.700-cheap-safe-drug-kills-most-cancers.html?DCMP=ILC-Top5&nsref=mg19325874.700 [newscientist.com]

Here's an excerpt...
"DCA and How It Works
Dichloroacetic acid versus Sodium Dichloroacetate

Dichloroacetic acid is a small molecule, basically acetic acid with 2 chlorines. The molecular formula is Cl2CHCOOH.

Dichloroacetate is the sodium salt of dichloroacetic acid. Replace a hydrogen with sodium and you get Cl2CHCOONa

If you view the video from CTV you will see a jar of dichloroacetic acid prominently displayed. http://www.depmed.ualberta.ca/dca/vid1.htm [ualberta.ca] is well worth watching. But they used a “cheap ...powder”. Dichloroacetic acid only comes in liquid. The powder is the sodium salt of dichloroacetic acid. It is sodium dichloroacetate. The researchers did not use the acid.

For those of you searching for DCA, do not buy the acid. I posted info on the FAQ about it. The acid is not the same thing as the acetate. The acid is dangerously corrosive.

How does DCA work, briefly?

The Michelakis team reports that DCA turns on the mitochondria of cancer cells, allowing them to commit cellular suicide, or apoptosis.

Cancer cells shut down the mitochondria, which is the part of the cell that is involved in metabolism and, incidentally, initiates the cell suicide.

A non-cancerous cell will initiate apoptosis when it detects damage within itself that it cannot repair. But a cancer cell resists the suicide process. That is why chemotherapy and radiation treatments do not work very well and actually result in terrible side effects the healthy cells actually die much easier.

Michelakis and his team discovered that they could re-activate the mitochondria of cancer cells. Not only that, the DCA is very effective in doing it: To quote from the Michelakis paper: “The decrease in [Ca2+]i occurs within 5 min and is sustained after 48 hr of DCA exposure.” The mitochondria are so sensitive to DCA that just 5 minutes of exposure reactivates them for 48 hours.

The metabolic approach to cancer is supported by other research. Inhibition of Glycolysis in Cancer Cells: A Novel Strategy to Overcome Drug Resistance Associated with Mitochondrial Respiratory Defect and Hypoxia is a paper by a John Hopkins research team supporting this approach.

http://www.thedcasite.com/dcaforum/DCForumID1/79.html [thedcasite.com] is a post on our chat room by Willis. giving a prediction as to which cancers DCA might not control, and it is being supported by the reports we are receiving."

More on the left side of this web page:
http://www.thedcasite.com/dca_how_it_works.html [thedcasite.com]

= 9J =

Re:DCA - Dichloroacetate (NOT Dichloroacetic acid) (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174198)

That web scam's putative mechanism for DCA activity is that cancer cells have completely inactive mitochondria? Are you fucking kidding me? Do you even know what a mitochondrion does?

Re:DCA - Dichloroacetate (NOT Dichloroacetic acid) (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174424)

Seriously. I was reading that and thinking, dude, if cancer cells had no metabolism they would die without apoptosis.

Re:DCA - Dichloroacetate (NOT Dichloroacetic acid) (4, Informative)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174440)

Also chemo and radiation work extremely well for certain types of cancer, and work *precisely* because they affect cancerous cells far more readily then ordinary body cells (specifically: they induce damage in cells engaged in replication in the process of duplicating their DNA - cancer is doing this all the time, whereas most of your body is not replicating at any given time. It's why your hair falls out - the cells are engaged in aggressive replication constantly, and so are most affected).

Re:DCA - Dichloroacetate (NOT Dichloroacetic acid) (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174716)

Do you even know what a mitochondrion does?

They give you force powers, Duh!

Re:DCA - Dichloroacetate (NOT Dichloroacetic acid) (2)

ninejaguar (517729) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175078)

The DCA Site website was put up by laymen to pool together scarce information due to the lack of knowledge available at the time what research was available from corporate or academic sources.

You'll find similar inaccuracies in exact terminology or phrasing in the laymen comments on The DCA Site as you can find in laymen comments in Slashdot. I doubt that the intent was to convey that the mitochondria was completely disabled, only that an important function of the mitochondria, the ability to signal time for cell death, was disabled in cancer cells. Also, the poster was not conveying an opinion, he is citing a paper so that you can look into it further.

http://www.cell.com/cancer-cell/abstract/S1535-6108(06)00372-2 [cell.com]

Here's an excerpt from WIki:

"Cancer cells generally use glycolysis rather than respiration (oxidative phosphorylation) for energy (the Warburg effect), as a result of hypoxia that exists in tumors and damaged mitochondria.[13] Usually dangerously damaged cells kill themselves via apoptosis, a mechanism of self-destruction that involves mitochondria, but this mechanism fails in cancer cells.

A phase one study published in January 2007 by researchers at the University of Alberta, who had tested DCA on cancer cells grown in mice, found that DCA restored mitochondrial function, thus restoring apoptosis, killing cancer cells and shrinking the tumors.[14]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dichloroacetic_acid [wikipedia.org]

= 9J =

Re:DCA - Dichloroacetate (NOT Dichloroacetic acid) (2)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174302)

There is almost no funding for this drug study due to it being un-patentable despite quite encouraging results, and reasonably acceptable and reversible side-effects.

Universities do all kinds of unpatentable research. Whereas a company looks to patent a product to make money, universities look to release research in order to earn prestige, which means more money.

(As a side note, companies can make quite a profit off of prestige as well. Prestige buys a company trust of a brand name. Brand name recognition goes a long way towards profit for a company)

So, in conclusion, your theory is full of shit.

Re:DCA - Dichloroacetate (NOT Dichloroacetic acid) (1)

ninejaguar (517729) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175192)

Patents Over Patients
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/01/opinion/01moss.html?_r=1 [nytimes.com]

Patents Over Patients
By RALPH W. MOSS

State College, Pa.

WE could make faster progress against cancer by changing the way drugs are developed. In the current system, if a promising compound can’t be patented, it is highly unlikely ever to make it to market — no matter how well it performs in the laboratory. The development of new cancer drugs is crippled as a result.

The reason for this problem is that bringing a new drug to market is extremely expensive. In 2001, the estimated cost was $802 million; today it is approximately $1 billion. To ensure a healthy return on such staggering investments, drug companies seek to formulate new drugs in a way that guarantees watertight patents. In the meantime, cancer patients miss out on treatments that may be highly effective and less expensive to boot.

In 2004, Johns Hopkins researchers discovered that an off-the-shelf compound called 3-bromopyruvate could arrest the growth of liver cancer in rats. The results were dramatic; moreover, the investigators estimated that the cost to treat patients would be around 70 cents per day. Yet, three years later, no major drug company has shown interest in developing this drug for human use.

Early this year, another readily available industrial chemical, dichloroacetate, was found by researchers at the University of Alberta to shrink tumors in laboratory animals by up to 75 percent. However, as a university news release explained, dichloroacetate is not patentable, and the lead researcher is concerned that it may be difficult to find funding from private investors to test the chemical. So the university is soliciting public donations to finance a clinical trial.

The hormone melatonin, sold as an inexpensive food supplement in the United States, has repeatedly been shown to slow the growth of various cancers when used in conjunction with conventional treatments. Paolo Lissoni, an Italian oncologist, helped write more than 100 articles about this hormone and conducted numerous clinical trials. But when I visited him at his hospital in Monza in 2003, he was in deep despair over the pharmaceutical industry’s total lack of interest in his treatment approach. He has published nothing on the topic since then.

Potential anticancer drugs should be judged on their scientific merit, not on their patentability. One solution might be for the government to enlarge the Food and Drug Administration’s “orphan drug” program, which subsidizes the development of drugs for rare diseases. The definition of orphan drug could be expanded to include unpatentable agents that are scorned as unprofitable by pharmaceutical companies.

We need to foster a research and development environment in which anticancer activity is the main criterion for new drug development.

Ralph W. Moss writes a weekly online newsletter about cancer.

More references here...
http://www.thedcasite.com/Unpatentable_drugs_and_the_FDA.html [thedcasite.com]

= 9J =

Re:DCA - Dichloroacetate (NOT Dichloroacetic acid) (1)

LastGunslinger (1976776) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174840)

Dumping a wall of text beginning with claims of a drug company conspiracy is a good way to have your comment as the ravings of a nutter. However, my friend has brain cancer (glioblastoma) and I decided I'd at least dig a little deeper. It seems that DCA may be promising, although you probably should have included links to more objective websites. The study appears to be legitimate research, but a human trial of only five patients is hardly conclusive. I'm going to pass this information on and hope it isn't all nonsense.

Re:DCA - Dichloroacetate (NOT Dichloroacetic acid) (1)

Joey Vegetables (686525) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175022)

DCA turns on the mitochondria of cancer cells

Porn for mitochondria. Who would have guessed??

Crappy summary as usual. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174032)

"It's unlikely to evolve any new defense mechanisms, meaning curing cancer might be not quite as mammoth a task as commonly thought."
Gee since I just lost my mother to cancer last month and have lost way to many friends to it I have to say that this is the STUPIDEST, MOST ARROGANT statement I have read in a very long time.
How long have we been trying to cure and prevent cancer? We have made a lot of progress to be sure but the task and effort passed mammoth decades ago.
I welcome any news about improved treatment but really people let's not make light of the subject or the effort.
It reminds me of every clueless idiot that takes a look at a task that they can not do and say, "How hard can it be?"
And to those that are making jokes and or political comments about this. Well I hope you don't ever have to understand the things that I have learned about cancer over the last few years.

Re:Crappy summary as usual. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35174206)

It seems like a reasonable statement to me, if you assume that the premise is true, although I might have instead phrased it, "...meaning we might be closer to a cure for cancer than we previously thought."

Re:Crappy summary as usual. (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174248)

The arrogance is not present in the original source: they present their hypothesis, outline how it can be tested, and explain its potential impact on cancer research. The hyperbole and hubris comes from the author of the summary and the article, not the scientists. They only write of "new reasons for optimism".

Re:Crappy summary as usual. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174398)

I am sure you are correct. That is why the title of my post was crappy summary as usual. Anyone educated and smart enough to be involved in this kind of work would probably be wise enough to make make such a stupid statement in writing.

Re:Crappy summary as usual. (1)

dr2chase (653338) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174384)

And given all the other crazy interlocking defenses our bodies have evolved over the years, if it were "simple", random chance should have stumbled across it over time, and THAT would spread through the population because it confers a survival advantage for your family/tribe. If there is a silver bullet, it will be something so wacky or foreign that it is truly improbable, even given the long history of evolution and genetic roulette.

Re:Crappy summary as usual. (2)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175328)

if it were "simple", random chance should have stumbled across it over time, and THAT would spread through the population because it confers a survival advantage for your family/tribe

Not really. Cancer rarely occurs early in life. For most of human history, you would have died well before cancer had a chance to finish you off. Even now it mostly occurs late enough in life that it doesn't affect reproduction. Ergo, the evolutionary advantage would be weak-to-non-existent, meaning the mutations might have no better odds of spreading than what would be expected from pure chance.

Re:Crappy summary as usual. (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174598)

The first step in curing Cancer, is cure ignorance. Easier said than done, but it's a start. I lost my mother to this truly evil form of death in 1994.

Re:Crappy summary as usual. (1)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174608)

Hang on, you're talking like you're the only one in the world that truly gets losing loved ones to cancer and *they're* the arrogant ones?

There is nothing wrong with the statement you've quoted there. As we learn more about cancer curing it will become less daunting. Sending people into space, beaming pictures across the globe near-instantly, portable and wireless communications all seemed just as daunting tasks as curing cancer does at one point.

Almost everyone above the age of 30 knows someone that had/has/died from cancer. You have my sympathy for your losses, but the article/summary are not the ones with the problem here.

Re:Crappy summary as usual. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35174614)

Perhaps it works better in an analogy.

You, in addition to millions of people, are attempting to climb the steepest mountain you've ever seen. You have no explanation for it's presence. Different members of the millions of people come up with fantastic ideas for new equipment, climbing techniques, and even partner up with others to find a way to the top of this mountain. Some people give up early on, some people get past an extremely difficult part only to fall off later, some people make it to the top by sheer virtue of good fortune. All of a sudden, someone sees around the other side what might be an elevator that goes to the top. With that, the task gets simplified and as many people as there were who fell off the mountain, with the presence of a long-ignored elevator, the task becomes, well, less mammoth.

You speak as a victim, on some level, of cancer. A fairly good reason to be sensitive about the subject. But as near as I can tell, you weren't attempting to divine a cure for it. And if this hypothesis(however unlikely) turns out to be true, the fact is that things will be simplified, cancer research will advance tremendously as a result, and the task will have become a much easier proposition. Just like every other major advancement in science and culture. Hell, the flu used to kill millions(still kind of does). Treating it now is a fairly simple proposition. Saying so doesn't belittle the loss inflicted by it. It's just not that big a deal now.

Let the cancer biologists do the cancer biology... (5, Informative)

toppavak (943659) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174104)

The good news is this means cancers have only finite variation. Once we figure out the ancient genes, we'll know how it works. It's unlikely to evolve any new defense mechanisms, meaning curing cancer might be not quite as mammoth a task as commonly thought.

We've already figured out how most cancer works. At a gross, generalized level you have oncogenes (genes responsible for driving growth) and tumor suppressor genes (genes responsible for regulating growth) when interrelated genes of both varieties break in a cell, it becomes a cancer. A detailed molecular understanding of how some cancers work have led to effective treatments (see: Imatinib [wikipedia.org] , Tamoxifen [wikipedia.org] and Raloxifene [wikipedia.org] ) but that's hardly been successfully translated to other cancers where the broken parts aren't as easily modulated. In fact, Raloxifene was developed specifically because Tamoxifen which inhibits an oncogene in breast tissue activated the same oncogene in uterine tissue. What 10 years of the human genome have taught us is that not all diseases are direct or simple breaks in genetic code and that not all diseases with known, simple breaks in the genetic code are as easily treatable as we might like.

Re:Let the cancer biologists do the cancer biology (1)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174540)

FTA:

What one cancer learns cannot be passed on to the next generation of cancers in other patients

Of course not. That would be Lamarkism, like believing that if we cut off the cats tail, its future kittens will have no tail. That queery aside, what evidence is there for this conclusion about the complexity of combat?:

The good news is that this means combating cancer is not necessarily as complex as if the cancers were rogue cells evolving new and novel defence mechanisms within the body.

Even if their hypothesis is correct, that cancer involves the malfunctioning of a set of evolutionarily conserved genomic structures and processes, what evidence is there for concluding that combating cancer is not as going to be as complex as [something else we don't understand fully yet either]?

Who's to say that the unknown processes that cause genome modifications which sometimes result in cancer are not still evolving?

Re:Let the cancer biologists do the cancer biology (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175104)

There ARE Lamarkian mechanisms at work, such as retroviruses. Just because not all acquired characteristics, like scars and lost limbs, are not heritable, does not mean that none are. Mothers pass non-genetic material through the womb and through breast milk for instance.

Re:Let the cancer biologists do the cancer biology (1)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175322)

Retroviruses can be endogenous or exogenous. But they aren't inherited if acquired exogenously unless acquired by a germ cell i.e. for e.g. an exogenous retrovirus that causes breast cancer won't be inherited.

Natural Selection and Cancer. (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174176)

Cancer might resemble the kind of cells that eventually made the transition of prokaryotes to eukaryotes. But it is simplistic to say it is governed by just a few genes, so we should be able to handle it. Think about it, if these genes have escaped natural selection for 1 billion years, how hard it is going to be to fight them.

Basically natural selection will be able to filter out any gene that affects the reproductive ability. Given the length of time, even extraordinarily minute differences will make a difference and eventually deleterious genes will be filtered out. But if some gene trades improved fitness at the reproductive stage for some serious cost to life at a later stage, that gene will never be filtered out. The extreme example is the trout that had traded it so much that it dies immediately after spawning. Its entire metabolism is structured to improve fitness before spawning to very serious inability to live after spawning.

Even if these guys were right, and with modern science you are able to find that one gene whose loss of function causes cancer, and they are able to fix it, all it means is you will not die of cancer, but will die of other geriatric diseases. Some of them are painful, some of them are embarrassing. But the most heart wrenching ones are those that trap a dead brain in a functioning body or a functioning brain in a dying body.

I wish science would concentrate on improving the quality of life when alive and allow both the body and the brain to die together painlessly.

Re:Natural Selection and Cancer. (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174570)

Cancer might resemble the kind of cells that eventually made the transition of prokaryotes to eukaryotes. But it is simplistic to say it is governed by just a few genes, so we should be able to handle it. Think about it, if these genes have escaped natural selection for 1 billion years, how hard it is going to be to fight them.

You're committing the common fallacy of assuming evolution == improvement. There is very little selective pressure against cancer causing genes past our historical peak fertility period (teens to late twenties). There's very little selective pressure against cancers which strike in mid-late life.

But this doesn't mean treating cancer because it's caused by this type of genetic defect need be difficult, or that they are somehow "resistant" to deliberate intervention. All it means, is we're talking about useful genetic functions that don't kill us most of the time.

Re:Natural Selection and Cancer. (1)

toppavak (943659) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174718)

Cancer might resemble the kind of cells that eventually made the transition of prokaryotes to eukaryotes.

A cancer cell is a cell that has no regulated growth control, in that fashion it resembles all single-celled life- prokaryote or eukaryote, but that's where the resemblance ends. Cancer is not some exotic type of cell, it's quite simply a cell which lost or broke one or more communication pathways that allow the cell itself or other cells in a multicellular organism to direct its growth and differentiation. No theory surrounding the evolution of eukaryotic cells has anything to do with the reason cancer cells are cancerous.

Re:Natural Selection and Cancer. (1)

mariox19 (632969) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175314)

Biology certainly isn't my specialty, but if I understood The Selfish Gene correctly, there are any number of genes that have escaped natural selection, so to speak. In the human genome, just to take an example, I'm pretty sure a good portion of our genes, if not the majority, contribute nothing and are basically free riders that happened to be in the right company: meaning, other genes that do contribute to our survival. I would think that these ancient genes, the ones hypothesized as governing cancer-like behavior in cells, can be counted among these free riders.

My point is that there's no reason to think they're especially tough. They've been doing nothing for their own survival, other than having the right "friends." If the hypothesis is correct, we just need to figure out what's been keeping them in line and replicate that.

Re:Natural Selection and Cancer. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175336)

The problem with that assumption is that cancer is a condition that almost always affects organisms after their primary reproductive cycles have been completed. There are a few cancers that affect children and young adults but they are extremely rare.

Cancers need to grow blood vessels too (5, Informative)

AC-x (735297) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174178)

It's a nice theory, but cancers aren't completely self sufficient. They need to form blood vessels to grow any larger than a pin head and early sponge-like organisms certainly didn't have those.

http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/about-cancer/what-is-cancer/grow/how-a-cancer-gets-its-blood-supply [cancerhelp.org.uk]

Re:Cancers need to grow blood vessels too (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175270)

This needs to be moderated up more.

But:

Agrobacterium tumafacians and 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid cause the plant to grow abnormally to death
Agrobacterium tumefaciens is an good example of a bacterium that induces tumors (http://biology.kenyon.edu/Microbial_Biorealm/bacteria/proteobacteria/agrobacterium/Agrobacterium.htm) or cancerous growth in plants. The mechanism of induction is the transfer of bacterial genes to plant cells via tumor inducing plasmid. Be careful working with them, they can even infect human cells (reference) (http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Agrobacterium.php)

The second example is a stretch of the term cancer. 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic_acid) is a synthetic herbicide. It mimics the activity of the plant hormone auxin (Indole Acetic Acid) causing the excessive cellular growth. If you inject yourself with an excess of substance that mimics our own hormones (e.g. somatotropin-like substance), would the excessive growth be called cancer?

Re:Cancers need to grow blood vessels too (1)

spads (1095039) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175340)

Excellent point. Perhaps the cancer "boot configuration" could be a hybrid of the two? Perhaps we get the "pin head" (mono-cultures) all over the place, but just don't know it. Occasionally, the hybrid thing happens. In that case, turning off the Safe Mode configuration would still stop the cancer.

safe mode? (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174316)

given that this article postulates that cancer cells have apparently been the default mode of cellular division for perhaps billions of years, and personal computers have only been around for 30 years, it would be more appropriate to say you sometimes need to boot your computer into cancer mode. that's a more appropriate analogy

Then we shouldn't kill it (1, Troll)

jbarr (2233) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174366)

If cancer is what life was like a billion years ago, then we should not be spending so much time, money, and effort to kill it. By pandering to our self-centered focus of survival and self-preservation, we could be preventing the next race of beings from evolving natually.

Re:Then we shouldn't kill it (1)

MoldySpore (1280634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174416)

(sarcasm) Blasphemy!!!!! Science once again comes up with another thing to test your faith! Cancer can't POSSIBLY be 1 Billion Years Old! The world is only a few thousand years old! (/sarcasm)

Re:Then we shouldn't kill it (2)

jouassou (1854178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174638)

Yes, we might. After all, cancer has already evolved into species of it's own [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:Then we shouldn't kill it (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174844)

When you're the one (or perhaps your parent or child) dying painfully from cancer, you won't be saying that. Nice troll, though.

Definition of Life and Cancer (5, Funny)

gov_coder (602374) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174442)

Life: the decision of approximately 4 billion cells to be 'you' for a while.

Cancer: When some of the 4 billion cells decide to form a 'tea party'.

Re:Definition of Life and Cancer (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175100)

Life: the decision of approximately 4 billion cells to be 'you' for a while.

Cancer: When some of the 4 billion cells decide to form a 'tea party'.

Depressed Living Teddy Bear: "Why am I here?"
Little girl: "For tea parties!"
Bear, desperate: "Is that all there is?"
-Supernatural

And again, remember that episode of TNG? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35174462)

This explains that episode of Star Trek, Genesis. Right?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_%28Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation%29

Right?

EVERYTHING IN STAR TREK IS COMING TRUE!

Can we define cancer? (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174552)

Cancer covers quite a bit of biological territory and not all cancers are created equal. This seams to trivialize just how diverse our bodies are and discounts its ability to adapt. I mean cancer at it's core is actually the bodies attempt to adapt to a situation that has gone awry. I read somewhere the body creates cancer cells every day of your life but the immune system takes care of it naturally. When someone gets cancer it is because the immune system didn't catch it and it was allowed to multiply.

Windows (2)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174784)

Windows isn't a virus, it's a cancer.

Why do the "controlling genes" fail? (1)

OldTOP (1118645) | more than 3 years ago | (#35174812)

Maybe the few genes that regulate the primitive behavior are simple and incapable of evolving, although it’s not clear why those genes would not mutate. TFA doesn’t give any reason to believe there is only one mechanism for suppressing them, or that it only has one mode of failure.

Ancient genes (1)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175048)

I don't know about curing cancer but once we figure out the ancient genes we'll have access to all kinds of awesome technology. Let's get on this people!

Legacy code (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175070)

This is certainly adds a new definition for the old term 'legacy code'.

All things relate to Star Trek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35175112)

We can see an example of a similar concept during a Star Trek TNG Episode 271, where Dr. Crusher accidentally activates a dormant intron causes everyone to de-evolve to something else stored in their historical DNA!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_(Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation)

In other words (1)

el3mentary (1349033) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175130)

It's more evolved than 4chan?

big deal (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35175204)

Cancer is (1) inability of the cell to keep sticking to the base + (2) inablity of the cell to not divide uncontrollably, both are closely related. If you have structured body of many eukaryotic cells you need your organs (2) to be contained and (1) not to mix

Early eukaryots were monocellular, so they neither have a need (1) to contain the growth (2) to stick to the base. And that is the simplest behavior of the cell: it grows until third party puts a stop to it, and it does not stick to anything, because sticking requires extra effort.

Once eukaryots developed and became (1) multicellular, they developed (2) specilialization, so the need for the mechanisms to (1) stick to the base and to (2) control the growth arised. Once those mechanism fail, organism gets cancer.

Obviously ancient systems that need to be controled by newer anticancer systems go amok when the latter fail, and those systems they are talking about.

As usual, all is very trivial, and no need for hupla.

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