NOV 22, 2017 6:34 AM PST

What Makes Testicular Cancer More Susceptible to Chemo?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Image credit: Pixabay.com

The type of cancer has a significant bearing for the patient’s prognosis. A patient diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer is likely to be faced with a long and difficult battle. By contrast, a person diagnosed with metastatic testicular cancer could still have a good shot of beating the cancer with the appropriate therapy. Why is testicular cancer so responsive to treatment when other cancers aren’t?

Researchers from the Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine hoped to find the weakness of testicular cancer, in the hopes that we could apply this to other more intractable cancer types.

Using a mouse model that accurately mimics testicular cancer in humans, the team teased apart the various cell populations inside the tumors. By studying the unique properties of these cell populations, the team found a surprising answer to testicular cancer’s weakness: cancer stem cells.

Cancer stem cells have all the properties of normal stem cells, including the ability to self-renew and differentiate into other cells. They can also withstand more damage, which allows them to survive for longer and proliferate. Collectively, these properties allow cancer stem cells to resist a variety of therapies.

But the current study found the opposite in testicular cancer. In this disease, the cancer stem cells are the ones most susceptible to treatment. As a result, medical intervention for testicular cancer has a higher success rate, as compared to other cancer types.

"When testicular cancer stem cells are exposed to chemotherapy, those stem cells are actually more sensitive to it than other cells in the tumor," said Robert Weiss, the study’s senior author.

“We conclude that the chemosensitivity of TGCTs derives from the sensitivity of their cancer stem cells to DNA-damaging chemotherapy,” the authors concluded.

Of note, testicular cancer is not very common as compared to other cancers. A man’s lifetime risk of developing the disease is less 0.5 percent. Treatment is based on the tumor grade, and can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and even high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant.

"The study provides new insights into the basis for the responsiveness of testicular cancer to chemotherapy, which has always been an intriguing observation, but the basis for it was not clear," said Weiss.

Additional sources: Cornell University

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
APR 10, 2021
Cancer
Administration of this immune-stimulating drug pre-surgery could help pancreatic cancer patients
APR 10, 2021
Administration of this immune-stimulating drug pre-surgery could help pancreatic cancer patients
New findings support the administration of a CD40 immune-stimulating drug to early-stage pancreatic cancer patients in a ...
APR 08, 2021
Cancer
What can modifiying cultured cells to act more like normal cells teach us about cancer?
APR 08, 2021
What can modifiying cultured cells to act more like normal cells teach us about cancer?
A team from the University of Louisville has developed a technique to make cell cultures act more like normal cells. Thi ...
MAY 06, 2021
Cancer
What accounts for the disparities in mortality rates from kidney cancer?
MAY 06, 2021
What accounts for the disparities in mortality rates from kidney cancer?
New research published in the journal Cancers attempts to address gaps in data regarding mortality risk from advanced-st ...
MAY 27, 2021
Cancer
Which ovarian cancer patients will be resistant to platinum chemotherapy?
MAY 27, 2021
Which ovarian cancer patients will be resistant to platinum chemotherapy?
Research published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine details a novel mechanism that can be used to predict which ep ...
JUN 06, 2021
Cancer
New drug reduces tumor size in lung cancer patients with KRAS gene mutation
JUN 06, 2021
New drug reduces tumor size in lung cancer patients with KRAS gene mutation
The most recent results from the CODEBREAK 100 phase 2 clinical trial support the use of the drug sotorasib to reduce tu ...
JUL 22, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
Cancer Cells in the Lab Aren't Like Cancer Cells in the Body
JUL 22, 2021
Cancer Cells in the Lab Aren't Like Cancer Cells in the Body
To study biology, researchers need models. Once those models might have been a bit limited to organisms like rats or mic ...
Loading Comments...