DEC 08, 2020 12:28 PM PST

Stress hormones interrupt tumor cells' hibernation

A new study published in Science Translational Medicine suggests that the hormones released from stress could “reawaken” dormant cancer cells from their hibernation. The finding provides insight on one mechanism that contributes to why cancer returns after patients are in recession.

Why cancers return is a question that plagues both physicians and patients alike. The recurrence of tumors is considered one of the most significant causes of death in cancer patients, though scientists still don’t fully understand the mechanisms that trigger a recurrence.

The study was conducted in mice models and used data from 80 patients with lung cancer. Led by Michela Perego and colleagues, the team of researchers looked at how mice in stressful situations release increased levels of stress hormones like norepinephrine. This in turn triggers immune cells called neutrophils to release S100A8/A9 proteins and fatty molecules that ultimately resulted in lung and ovarian tumor cells to emerge from their long sleep.

This discovery opens up a new pathway for drug development and extended cancer treatment. If a drug can target and inhibit certain stress hormones, it may be able to keep tumor cells in a dormant state.

Beta-blockers are a class of drugs known for their properties of targeting stress hormones. To try out this idea, the researchers gave stressed mice an experimental beta-blocker and showed that their tumor cells stayed dormant. They observed similar results in humans with lung cancer, showing that patients with higher concentrations of S100A8/A9 were more likely to have experienced recurrence 33 months after surgery.

Photo: Pexels

Perego’s team says that their research provides evidence that beta-blockers or similar drugs that target S100A8/A9 proteins should be analyzed to see if they could serve as potential therapies to prevent a recurrence.  

Sources: Science Translational Medicine, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
OCT 26, 2020
Cancer
Attacking leukemia trojan horse style
OCT 26, 2020
Attacking leukemia trojan horse style
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry have developed a new approach to targeting leukemic stem cells ...
NOV 04, 2020
Cancer
Building a New Chemotherapy Drug
NOV 04, 2020
Building a New Chemotherapy Drug
For decades, modern medicine has relied on chemists’ work to produce compounds that could one day be used as a dru ...
NOV 03, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
One Eight Cancer Patients Also Carry Inherited Genetic Mutations
NOV 03, 2020
One Eight Cancer Patients Also Carry Inherited Genetic Mutations
Genetic sequencing technologies have rapidly advanced, reducing the time required to sequence the entire human genome fr ...
NOV 25, 2020
Cancer
Using RNA to Diagnose HPV Associated Cancer
NOV 25, 2020
Using RNA to Diagnose HPV Associated Cancer
Diagnostic tools are critical to modern medicine. They might be less exciting than a good therapy or drug, but doctors a ...
DEC 26, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Navigating the Genomic Landscape of Cancer in Asians
DEC 26, 2020
Navigating the Genomic Landscape of Cancer in Asians
Precision medicine — a clinical paradigm that tailors treatments specifically to patients based on their genetic a ...
DEC 28, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
Anti-Diarrhea Drug Kills Aggressive Brain Cancer Cells
DEC 28, 2020
Anti-Diarrhea Drug Kills Aggressive Brain Cancer Cells
Glioblastoma is a very aggressive and lethal form of brain cancer that responds poorly to chemotherapy in children and a ...
Loading Comments...