NEW YORK, July 12, 2001 - Damage to the gastrointestinal tract, lung, and brain has long been the dose-limiting factor for chemotherapy and radiation therapy. But until now scientists did not know which cells targeted within those organs were responsible for the lethal responses. Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have discovered that, in mice, destruction of endothelial cells that line small blood vessels is the cause of the tissue damage and death that results from radiation therapy and possibly chemotherapy. These researchers have developed pharmacologic and genetic interventions that prevent endothelial apoptosis (programmed cell death) and gastrointestinal damage in mice. Their findings, published in the July 13 issue of Science, have implications for understanding how radiation affects normal organs and tumors, and may provide a new approach for targeting and destroying tumors more effectively. "This research is an example of how new biology improves our ability to provide better treatment," said radiation oncologist Zvi Fuks, M.D., study co-author and Deputy Physician in Chief for Planning at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. "It combines biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, and pharmacology and provides a model in which the details of an important mechanism are understood. The promise of the research is that it gives us an approach to interfere with cellular events in a targeted way."
The above story is based on materials provided by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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