Thursday, January 13, 2011

Did You Know That Arsenic Can Actually Treat Brain Tumors?

Arsenic and its related compounds are mostly thought of as killers -- and these natural substances can be just that. Notoriously poisonous to myriad forms of life, arsenic is often used in pesticides. And water supplies in many parts of the world that are contaminated by the natural occurrence of arsenic compounds can cause serious health problems. But despite it's reputation as a dangerous chemical, arsenic has been used in tiny amounts in medicine for over 2,000 years.

A team of researchers, led by Aykut Uren of Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., has found evidence that arsenic might be a therapy for hard-or-impossible-to-treat types of brain tumors as well as connective tissue tumors. Specifically, years of research have revealed a common pathway (the hedgehog/GLI1 signaling pathway) that is activated in tumors called medulloblastomas and connective tissue tumors known as Ewing sarcoma (ES). This activation causes cancer tumors to grow and spread.

In research just published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, the Georgetown scientists described how they used the arsenic trioxide compound to shut down that pathway in mice models of ES and medulloblastoma. The result? The growth of cancer cells was dramatically suppressed.

According to a media statement, Dr. Uren explained that this pathway is also commonly activated in other cancers, including colon, pancreatic, and basal cell skin cancer. That means the arsenic compound can and should be tested immediately on these other malignancies.

No comments:

Post a Comment