Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world. It is only surpassed by heart disease. Nearly every person on the planet knows someone who has been diagnosed with cancer.

Stem cell therapy and gene therapy are two alternative ways that have been reported to have cured cancer. Stem cell therapy in cancer treatment can come from human beings or from plants. Gene therapy, which has been used successfully in experiments with mice, uses a patient’s gene inserted into a cell instead of surgery or drugs.

So let’s take a more detailed look into these therapies.

 

Gene therapy

To start with, our heredity materials are chromosomes. A normal human being has 46 chromosomes. A chromosome is composed of thousands of genes. A gene is made of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that contains information codes composed of nucleotides. For example, A is a nucleotide, B is another nucleotide, C is another nucleotide The sequence ABC might show as a normal black mole in a person’ face.

The information code ABC can be identified as a recognition site by a cutting enzyme. This is like a pair of scissors that has a mind of its own. It goes to that ABC portion and cuts it out.

If we were to trace gene therapy for cancer in broad outline, it might look like this: a) ABC is the information code that we need, b) We locate it in the DNA, c) We make a copy of the ABC.

How do we intend ABC to work? ABC is the gene that controls the production of an enzyme that catalyzes the production of nitric oxide. That enzyme is called inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). It produces nitric oxide (NO), a gas free radical, that kills cancer cells.

We would then need a carrier to deliver ABC to the cancer cells. Once ABC lands in the cancer cells, it produces NO that kills them or that induces their natural death.

Since we have a piece of ABC already, now we employ a carrier. The carrier is a protein envelope of virus. Our carrier cannot infect or multiply because it is like a coat. This protein coat is produced by a separate enzyme, also controlled by a gene.

This carrier, transporting our iNOS, must land precisely on the target cancer cell. Let’s label the gene of this carrier, abc. Carriers (protein envelopes) are mass produced by cloning. How do we ensure that carriers will land in a precise manner? The cancer cell produces a marker called carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). The surface of each cancer cell is modified with the use of an antibody. The carrier finds the marker only and will not land on any other cell, especially healthy cells, in the vicinity.

We already have genes at hand: ABC, abc, and antibody. Let’s assemble them together, put them inside a test tube, and mix them. The genes must be linked together so they know their respective places. That is done with the addition of DNA ligase in the mixture. This enzyme sews up the genes together like a zipper. At this point, you have produced a recombinant DNA.

Popularized names or labels have been used in this example, to simplify the explanation.  This elaboration is based on laboratory procedures that even the expert can recheck, especially with the highly technical book, “Nitric Oxide Protocols.”

Let’s make several copies of this recombinant DNA with the use of virus. Virus multiplies its population by two every 20 minutes, which is why we can make plenty of recombinant DNA in a short time. We harvest only the recombinant DNA and then prepare them like vaccine. When this recombinant DNA is administered to the cancer patient, rejection does not occur.

To put it another way, ABC is the gene that controls iNOS; abc is the gene of the carrier of iNOS; CEA is the marker of cancer. Also provided is the gene of an antibody that changes the surface of the cancer cells to be recognized by carriers.

Consider this analogy: ABC is like a lighter. abc is like a light airplane. iNOS is like  landing gear. CEA is like a flammable magnet. The airplane carrying a lighter mounted on landing gear lands on the flammable magnet. As the landing gear touches the flammable magnet, the lighter ignites it. The magnet, in this case, the CEA, explodes and kills the cancer.

“…The recombinant retrovirus showed a specific delivery of the iNOS gene to human CEA-expressing carcinoma cells and directly killed the infected cells by induction of apoptosis without any additional drugs,” according to Hassid*. So according to Hassid’s work and using our example, the free radical that lands on a cancer cell kills it.

And as mentioned previously, gene therapy has been tried successfully on mice, though not yet on human beings.

 

Stem cell therapy

In another article on StemCell101.com, chemotherapy is compared with stem cell therapy. You may also refer to that article as a background for this article.

Since in this article we are addressing cancer, it should be clarified that stem cell therapy doesn’t directly kill cancer cells. (Although stem cell therapy can cure other diseases.)

As mentioned previously, stem cells can come from a human being or a plant. When injected as solution or taken as capsule, stem cells work in two ways. They multiply to a large population, or they induce the multiplication of native stem cells of the patient.

For example, leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells. These cancerous white blood cells grow in an uncontrollable manner so that they crowd out red blood cells. The red blood cells carry oxygen so when their population is low, they cannot supply the patient with enough oxygen. The patient will die of starvation for oxygen. This is why the leukemia patient needs a blood transfusion. However, mere blood transfusions will not remedy leukemia completely.

The native stem cells of the patient that produce red blood cells must be induced. That is what stem cells from cord blood do. And that is what stem cells from plants do.

Stem cells also revive the ability of blood cells to die off. Blood cells have a life span of 140 days. New blood cells produced by stem cells can replace cancerous blood. When that happens the cancer patient heals.

 

Reference:

* Hassid, A. Editor. Nitric Oxide Protocols. Kuroki, M. “Gene Therapy in Cancer Via Use of a Retrovector Having a Tumor Specificity and Expressing Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase.” 2004:202. JJ

 

Conrado Fontanilla
Conrado has an extensive background in science. He has specialized in bridging the gap between scientists and consumers. He started out in agriculture, forestry and environment. Then he branched out into medical journalism owing to his desire to control his heart disease. In the present decade interest in stem cell research has emerged, stirring ethical issues around the use of embryonic stem cells. In 2006, it was discovered that adult cells like skin can be reprogrammed back to embryonic stem cells. Now, there is no more need to utilize an embryo as the source for stem cells. Recently it was found that nutritional supplements constitute a method in stem cell therapy. Conrado has contributed to the development of stem cell-organism theory and its application in medicine, particularly regenerative medicine.