Cancer chemotherapy resistance is a major clinical problem that occurs when cancer cells become resistant to the drugs used to treat them. This resistance can occur in any type of cancer, and it can make treatment difficult or impossible.
There are many possible mechanisms of cancer chemotherapy resistance, and they are often specific to the type of cancer being treated. However, one of the most common mechanisms is the development of drug-resistant cancer cell subpopulations.
Cancer cells are constantly mutating, and some of these mutations can confer resistance to chemotherapy drugs. When a cancer cell with a drug-resistant mutation multiplies, it can create a drug-resistant subpopulation of cells within the tumor.
These drug-resistant cells are often more aggressive and difficult to kill than the non-resistant cells, and they can quickly take over the tumor. As a result, the tumor becomes resistant to the chemotherapy drug, and the treatment stops working.
There are many ways to overcome cancer chemotherapy resistance, and the most effective approach will often depend on the specific type of cancer and the mechanisms of resistance. However, some general strategies that are often used include:
• Increasing the dose of the chemotherapy drug
• Combining different chemotherapy drugs
• Using new, more effective chemotherapy drugs
• Targeting the specific mechanism of resistance
• Choosing the best treatment for the individual patient
Cancer chemotherapy resistance is a major clinical problem, but it can be overcome with the right treatment approach.
In a recent study, researchers from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center explain how a specific protein helps cancer cells withstand chemotherapy and develop resistance to treatment. The study also offers a potential solution to this problem.
The protein, known as DOT1L, is found in high levels in several types of cancer, including leukemia. DOT1L prevents chemotherapy drugs from attacking cancer cells by adding a protective methyl group to a key section of the cells’ DNA.
The study’s senior author, Matthew Longo, PhD, said that when they looked at cancer cells that had become resistant to chemotherapy, they found that DOT1L was almost always present at high levels.
“We think that DOT1L is one of the major players in contributing to chemotherapy resistance,” Longo said.
The UNC Lineberger team found that they could block DOT1L’s activity with a small molecule inhibitor, which allowed chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells.
“We’re very excited about this finding,” said co-first author Brandon Hopkins, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Longo’s lab. “It represents a potential new way to overcome chemotherapy resistance and, hopefully, improve outcomes for cancer patients.”
The study’s findings were published in the journal Science.