Tuesday, December 25, 2012

MAPPING CANCER AND CLUSTERS OF DIFFERENTIATION

MAPPING CANCER AND CLUSTERS OF DIFFERENTIATION.

One important aspect of the fight for the cure is to obtain cancer distribution MAP in an individual.  Certainly, one would not attack an enemy without knowing its size, quantity/quality, distribution and location.  One of the challenges with cancer is that it comes from normal cells, therefore any attack we plan should include a component regarding how to avoid hurting the normal cell which relies on same survival strategies and components as the cancer cell!  Luckily, the cancer cell wants to avoid many of the natural death processes.  It wants to migrate and invade other organs, and where it has newly invaded, it wants to grow faster than the local cells and therefore creates a nutrition supply system that favors it!   With each of the new needs the cancer wants to acquire, it has to develop new sets of molecules and mechanisms not necessarily expressed by the normal cell.  These are globally called CLUSTERS OF DIFFERENTIATION OR CD. These include changes in membrane receptors, driver mutations, status of activation of now known targets in various pathways, and of course changes in transcription factors, DNA and even chromatin conformations.

These clusters of differentiation have been divided according to not only how we could use them, but how the cancer cell uses them.  We call them Predictive as they can help us predict the existence and behavior of cancer.  They are Prognostic when they determine cancer resilience  to a given treatment and define or influence the outcome of the patient.  They are Diagnostic when they point to the existence of cancer (these include the so called "Tumor Markers").

Mapping cancer today is limited.  Staging cancer today is a crude way of mapping the extent of cancer.  But in this day and age when we can visualize radiological changes in the metabolism, knowing the exact location and number of cancer cells everywhere in our body, it appears to be an achievable goal.  The cure will not be secured until we can count remaining enemies.  This knowledge will also help define cure.  There is a perception in the treating physician community that cure is not Zero cancer cells.  That we could be "cured" despite a residual amount of cancer.  How much and where is not clear!  Those who believe in a threshold number of cancer cells for active disease assert that, under the threshold, the immune system keeps things under control.
Molecular Therapy attacking Clusters of Differentiation have been attached to chemotherapy drugs and to radiation particles to kill exclusively cancers cells that have them.  Campath, Rituxan and others follow these mechanisms.  Suffice is to say we need more sophisticated ways to MAP CANCER IN OUR BODIES!  THIS WILL BE THE STRONGEST DIAGNOSTIC, PREDICTOR AND DETECTOR OF CANCERS!

 MERRY CHRISTMAS / JOYEUX NOEL TO ALL!
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