Chemotherapy Can Actually Help ... Cancer Cells

Treatment can backfire, new study finds
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2012 9:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – Chemotherapy can actually help cancer cells grow, a new study finds. Researchers were investigating why cancer cells, which are easy to kill in a lab setting, are so difficult to kill inside the human body, often reacting positively to chemo at first, only to quickly grow back and resist further treatment. They found that chemotherapy can damage the DNA of healthy cells, which then in turn secrete a protein called WNT16B—a protein that boosts nearby cancer cells' ability to survive by making them less susceptible to chemo.

"The increase in WNT16B was completely unexpected," a study co-author tells AFP. "WNT16B, when secreted, would interact with nearby tumor cells and cause them to grow, invade, and importantly, resist subsequent therapy." Researchers said that their findings held true for prostate, breast, and ovarian cancer, and suggest new research be done into whether an antibody to WNT16B could be administered along with chemo. (Read more chemotherapy stories.)

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