Some paradoxical thoughts on cancer

The war on cancer has focused on killing cancer cells. Common sense dictated this: either kill cancer cells or be killed by them. However, this approach amounts to running uphill. The medical profession is fighting the strong tendency of all cells toward self-preservation. This approach works long-term only if one kills all cancer cells, since any survivors will breed billions of additional tumor cells. And even if that battle were 100% successful, such killing treatments inevitably further damage precancerous cells, setting up yet another battle with cancer.

According to Warburg, cancer cells are so powered-down that they cannot maintain their differentiated state. In spite of having survived numerous rounds of selection, and producing sufficient energy to reproduce, cancer cells are weaker than normal cells. They have Achilles’ heels. Experiments with cybrids have shown that introducing the nucleus from cancer cells into the enucleated cytoplasm from healthy cells reverses the cancer phenotype. Thus, all of the nuclear genetic changes that scientists have focused on are really beside the point. Something in the cytoplasm by itself can reverse the cancer phenotype, even of a cell with numerous mutations in its nuclear DNA (that activate oncogenes and inhibit tumor-suppressors).

The cytoplasmic factor(s) is(are) in essence reprogramming gene expression. They are re-differentiating cells. Resting cells re-differentiate and return to rest and growing cells  re-differentiate, return to growing normally, responding to proper regulation. What factor(s) could do all of this?

This paradoxical approach to fighting cancer amounts to running downhill –working with nature’s powerful force of self-preservation. Cancer could best be cured by powering-up all cells, including cancer cells and precancerous cells. Since immune cells (including the putative powered-down rogue cells that make “auto-antibodies”) would also be powered-up (not just “stimulated,” but properly tuned, properly modulated), and would thus perform better, this paradoxical approach may not require a completely successful power-up of all cells. In classical chemotherapy, the immune system is further weakened (and probably rendered less accurate in its attacks on “foreign” antigens). The immune system’s ability to kill the last of the cancer cells is impaired by chemotherapy, the opposite of what is most needed, but this ability would be strengthened by strengthening all cells.

In addition, powering up cancer cells may allow them to do what the killing approach has failed to accomplish, namely, to commit suicide. The cell suicide program (apoptosis) is a catch-22. The suicide program is activated when cells lose viability, but the execution of this complex program to kill themselves requires that cells be strong enough and functional enough. In accomplishing this, the power-up program could help.

The two protocols, killing cancer cells and/or rejuvenating them, could in principle be done simultaneously or alternated.

When alternated, the killing phase could consist of the use of a novel pharmaceutical approach coupled with intermittent fasting or caloric restriction and extreme low carbohydrate diets, which in principle should kill off those cancer cells that are too heavily reliant on sugar fermentation (Warburg) to produce enough energy to maintain viability and support cell division. The power-up phase might consist of one or more square meals a day, rigorous stress control, and a second novel pharmaceutical approach. The stress response must be powered-down because of the well-documented interference of stress with maintenance and repair functions.

When simultaneous, treatments would be combined such that cancer cells are either killed or rediffferentiated by being successfully powered up. The immune system would be strengthened to kill off the last of the cancer cells that could not be redifferentiated or killed by the drugs.

No current pharmaceutical approach is suitable for either phase. Their Signal/Noise ratio is too low because all of them are using too high a concentration of individual drugs. A new approach with much higher Signal/Noise is needed, possibly mimicking nature’s smarter approach of using lower concentrations of a network of compounds to achieve a higher “therapeutic index.” Compare the body’s antioxidant network and the body’s methylation network.

More generally, would this approach combat all degenerative diseases and most of the ills of aging?


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