Tuesday, 3 December 2013

[www.keralites.net] If Professor Dharmarajan?s research lives up to it s potential, the diagnosis of glioblastoma multiforme ? an d other cancers ? may not be a death sentence at all


If Professor Dharmarajan's research lives up to its potential, the diagnosis of glioblastoma multiforme – and other cancers – may not be a death sentence at all. -

Professor Dharmarajan is professor emeritus at the University of Western Australia (UWA) School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, and a professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences at Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia. Seventeen years ago, while researching programmed cell death – an everyday occurrence in plants and animals – at UWA, he discovered a protein, secreted frizzled-related protein 4 (sFRP4), which turned out to have several cancer-fighting qualities.


"I knew this protein had a role in cell death and that was definitely important for cancer treatment," he says. "Then we found out it can also block cell proliferation.

 Professor Arunasalam Dharmarajan

Professor Arunasalam Dharmarajan


"Then about seven years back we found out that it blocks blood supply. So we've got the three most important properties for the treatment of cancer: it can kill cells, it can prevent cells from multiplying and it can also cut off the blood supply to the tumour."


For the past year, in collaboration with Dr Sudha Warrier, of Manipal University in Bangalore, India, Professor Dharmarajan has been using the protein to attack glioblastoma multiforme stem cells. These stem cells, like other cancer stem cells, initiate tumours and are not only immune to chemotherapy, but thrive on it.


"Stem cells are impervious to radio and chemotherapy by virtue of their hyperactive repair activities and drug effluxing properties," Professor Dharmarajan says. "These stem cells become even more enriched, more tough, more stable and keep multiplying in response to chemotherapeutic agents."


Drug therapy can shrink a tumour, but the stem cells cause it to reappear. Targeting them is thought to be crucial in the fight to tackle cancer, but it is not an easy task. "One cancer stem cell can be equal to 10 million tumour cells," Professor Dharmarajan says. "It's very difficult to specifically target them."


Dr Warrier, an assistant professor at the Manipal Institute of Regenerative Medicine, is one of the few people with the skills to isolate cancer stem cells. She and Professor Dharmarajan met at a conference two years ago.


Dr Warrier says it was clear from their first meeting that by working together they could achieve something important.


Part of the article posted here for full article click on the link below






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