Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Viruses and Osteosarcoma



Cancer is an illness that in some way or another has affected everyone. It is usually associated with older people who have had time to live their lives. However, there is a cancer that is almost only found in children and teens between the ages of nine and twenty-two, although, it can occur in people of any age. It is most commonly found in the femur, humerus and tibia and arises from osteoblasts (the cells that produce bone and cause it to grow). During the teen years children are going through growth spurts with their cells quickly dividing. Obviously the cause of cancer is not known however, there are possible hypothesises that bring forth a good argument. We know that proto-oncogenes aid in the normal function of the cell cycle and we also know that viruses are capable of disrupting the proto-onogene. In the case of Osteosarcoma a virus could interfere with the proto-onogene causing the inhibition of p53 (a protein that blocks the cell cycle if DNA is damaged). The virus then could begin to control the cell cycle in some way. The mutation causes inability for cells to pass through S phase and the check points, being the perfect precursor for tumour development. Because osteosarcoma most often arises in teenagers experiencing growth spurts, bones are growing at a rapid rate with the mutated cells taking control, being replicated more quickly than they would during other periods of one’s life. This p53 is an important part in the cell cycle which allows our cells to pass through the appropriate check points. When it is inhibited disaster occurs. If only they could figure out a way to block inhibition of this protein or block viruses from inserting into our genome all together. Unfortunately it is hard to keep up with research because viruses change so quickly. Maybe there will never be a cure for virus caused cancers...although, we can hope!

Even though there is not a cure for osteosarcoma or any cancer for that matter research is moving quickly to make mortality rate lower and lower. Osteosarcoma can be treated with vigorous interval treatments of chemotherapy. Because it mostly occurs in younger people their bodies can with stand a higher dosage. Allowing the tumour to reduce significantly in size and proceed on to surgery. If surgery goes well and the tumour reduces in size due to the chemotherapy the affected bone can be replaced with titanium, this form of prosthetic is not noticeable. There is some limited function such as running. But, overall it is a much better alternative than the “old fashioned” prosthetics. Even though there is no complete cure of any cancer, research makes it possible to limit the heart ache that caused by it.


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1 comment:

Dominic B. said...

Recently, the president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Brian Day has been implicated in a bit of controversy over his daughter and a possible case of that type of cancer...here is a link

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/
servlet/story/LAC.20071205.QUEUE05/
TPStory/National