Individual efficacy of chemotherapies

May 10, 2013, Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Diagram of the response to cisplatin-based chemotherapies subject to the COX function. Credit: AAP, Helmholtz Zentrum München

The function of the mitochondria – also defined as "power plants" within the cells – is essential as to whether, and how, some chemotherapeutic agents take effect in tissue. Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München have thus discovered a significant cell characteristic that could possibly predict the success of therapy. Their results will soon be published in the trade magazine The Journal of Pathology.

The response of to a specific chemotherapy line can vary dramatically. The reasons for this are manifold and unknown for the most part. Scientists in the Analytical Pathology Department (AAP) of the Helmholtz Zentrum München have recently been successful in exposing a mechanism that is relevant to this phenomenon. Dr. Michaela Aichler and her colleagues have found out that the function of enzymes within the respiratory chain, which takes place in the mitochondria of cells, regulates the sensitivity of cells for -based chemotherapeutic agents.

The scientists examined tissue, to this end, from tumours in the oesophagus, stomach and chest of a total of 428 patients. By means of an image-guided procedure (the so-called MALDI-Imaging and LC-MS/MS), protein patterns within the cells were able to be established and the illustrated enzymes identified. These patterns of existing and/or missing enzyme functions were compared by the scientists with the of the patients to a chemotherapy line containing cisplatin. If a defect was present in the respiratory chain complex within the – particularly in subunits of the specific (COX) – an improvement in the effect of the chemotherapy could be observed. This correlation was able to be additionally proved in subsequent experiments with the tissue samples. When the COX function was missing, a quicker cell death was noted with the introduction of cisplatin or other related treatments. Conversely, cells with an intact respiratory chain proved to be resistant to the administered substances.

"Recognition of these correlations contributes to an improved ability to predict the efficacy of certain chemotherapies", explains Prof. Dr. Axel Walch, Director of AAP. "It is possible that mitochondria, and/or their function enzymes, can be used in the future as biomarkers for personalised therapeutic approaches."

The focus of health research at the Helmholtz Zentrum München is placed on serious widespread diseases. This includes diabetes, lung diseases as well as cancer. It is the goal of the Helmholtz Zentrum München to quickly refine results from basic research to provide society with concrete benefits.

Explore further: Workplace stress poses risk to health

More information: Aichler, M. et al. (2013), Clinical response to chemotherapy in oesophageal adenocarcinoma patients is linked to defects in mitochondria, Journal of Pathology. doi: 10.1002/path.4199

Related Stories

Workplace stress poses risk to health

April 23, 2013
Stressful situations at work can have a negative impact on the cardiovascular system and the metabolism. Stress, which is transmitted by direct and indirect signaling pathways, leads to an inflammatory response in the body, ...

Exposure to everyday noise influences heart rate variability

May 2, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Exposure to noise, for example from road traffic, may adversely affect the cardiovascular system. Until now, underlying mechanisms linking noise to elevated cardiovascular risk have rarely been explored ...

Cisplatin-resistant cancer cells sensitive to experimental anticancer drugs, PARP inhibitors

April 3, 2013
Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors may be a novel treatment strategy for patients with cancer that has become resistant to the commonly used chemotherapy drug cisplatin, according to data from a preclinical study published ...

Doubling down against diabetes: Turbo-charged gut hormones

November 13, 2012
A collaboration between scientists in Munich, Germany and Bloomington, USA may have overcome one of the major challenges drug makers have struggled with for years: Delivering powerful nuclear hormones to specific tissues, ...

Recommended for you

Boosting cancer therapy with cross-dressed immune cells

January 22, 2018
Researchers at EPFL have created artificial molecules that can help the immune system to recognize and attack cancer tumors. The study is published in Nature Methods.

Workouts may boost life span after breast cancer

January 22, 2018
(HealthDay)—Longer survival after breast cancer may be as simple as staying fit, new research shows.

Cancer patients who tell their life story find more peace, less depression

January 22, 2018
Fifteen years ago, University of Wisconsin–Madison researcher Meg Wise began interviewing cancer patients nearing the end of life about how they were living with their diagnosis. She was surprised to find that many asked ...

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.