Chemotherapy has a bad reputation for poor results. New research points the way dramatically improve those results.
Carbon monoxide may both prevent tumor growth and make chemotherapy 1,000 times more effective while sparing noncancerous tissue from chemo’s debilitating side effects, a study has found.
Research had previously suggested that carbon monoxide, the highly toxic gas emitted from auto exhausts and faulty heating systems, can be used to treat certain inflammatory medical conditions, but this is the first study to find that the killer gas could be used for cancer treatment.
The new discovery appears to hinge on CO’s ability to switch the metabolic state of cancer cells so that tumors essentially work themselves to death. “There are fundamental differences in the metabolism of normal cells and cancer cells,”...
... mice with established tumors were started on a regimen of inhaled CO of one hour per day at a safe, low concentration, equal to that approved for use in humans in ongoing clinical trials. Tumor size was measured daily over four to six weeks. In the cancer cell CULTURES, metabolic activity in the mitochondria – the cells’ energy-generating organelle– were measured using biochemical markers as well as imaging techniques.
“We found that exposure to CO sensitized the prostate cancer cells — but not the normal cells — to chemotherapy,” explains Otterbein. “CO targeted mitochondria activity in cancer cells as evidenced by higher oxygen consumption, free radical generation and, ultimately, mitochondrial collapse.
“Collectively, our findings indicated that CO induces an anti-Warburg effect by rapidly fueling cancer cell bioenergetics, ultimately resulting in metabolic exhaustion,” he adds. Importantly, CO protected normal cells from DNA damage generated by cytotoxic agents, in part by reducing oxygen consumption and eliciting a hibernation-like state in these cells. “Essentially, these normal cells entered growth arrest and slowed their metabolic rate, in marked contrast to the cancer cells, which continued to consume oxygen at a rate that ultimately led to their demise.” [emphasis mine]
Sounds like a huge improvement in cancer treatment.