Cancer is one of the toughest opponents that modern medicine has to fight. Scientists and researchers all over the world have spent countless work hours in an effort to find an effective treatment or at least a way to slow down the progression of the disease. It is insanely difficult to make even the smallest amount of progress since, as everyone knows, cancer has many different forms and, in some cases, is extremely resilient to all types of ‘attacks’ that experts have invented. But there are times when discovering what we did wrong makes us stronger.
For over six decades, scientists thought that cancer cells used sugar found in our blood as “fuel” to be able to continue operating and growing. The above was not just a simple hypothesis but to the contrary, it had a very strong basis. In fact, it was based on an observation by Otto Warburg, a Nobel-winning scientist from Germany who observed and documented that tumors used glucose and by metabolizing it, they were able to expand in size.
However, a recent study done by a team of neuroscientists from the Newcastle University of the United Kingdom may prove the Warburg effect (as it’s called) to be false.
The team used etomoxir, a chemical substance that belongs to the group of fatty acid oxidation inhibitors. What this means is that etomoxir disrupts the oxidation procedure thus not allowing cancer cells to use fats as a way to grow. The ingredient has been used in lab rats and human cancerous tissue donated by patients, and in both cases it has slowed down the development of the tumors significantly. This, in turn, delayed the death of rats by 17 percent.
Even though this breakthrough is extremely important, we have to keep in mind that so far it has only been tested on mice. The human body is far more complicated and we don’t really know if we will have the same results in human tests. Still, the information gained by this study is crucial.
Oncology is a field of science trying to unlock the secrets of cancer. This is perhaps the greatest challenge that medicine is currently facing. There are many factors and different conditions that need to be taken into account before we can say that a treatment is actually effective and is helping the patient, especially when it includes side effects, some of which are severe. The best thing we can do is be patient and remember that every new discovery or invention, no matter how insignificant it may seem, brings us one step closer to finally finding the ultimate cure.