Every cell requires a specific environment to grow and to nourish so does cancer cells. Before testing cancer cell in any living organism, they tested in labs with the proper environment, but from last few years, researchers have noticed that the fluid in which the cancer cells grow in the body is entirely different from the fluid which is provided in labs, and this massive change can alter the effects.
The MIT biologists have researched about it and found that the interstitial fluid which is provided to the cancer cells in labs have an entirely different composition than the natural the fluid they get.
Matthew Vander Heiden, an associate professor of biology at MIT suggested that to grow the cancer cell in the medium similar to the original medium would be more helpful in observing the effect of experimental drugs on the cells.
As the cancer cells metabolize differently in the body as any other cells and use the alternative strategy to grow and divide. And in recent years, many medicines are under development to hinder this type of metabolism. The scientist used to have the carbon-based medium for the cancer cells. However, MIT biologist found that they act differently in the lab dish as well as the mouse they have used for the experiment.
Vander Heiden said that “it was a wakeup call for us that to know how to find the dependencies of cancer, we have to get the environment right.” After this keen observation, the scientist started to investigate the composition of the fluid which helps the cells to grow. Because without the knowledge of the environment which provides help, how can we stop cancer from growing?
It was definite that the fluid is not blood, because the tumors usually do not have any connection with the blood supply. To find out, the biologist used the pancreatic tumor, because it is known as a nutrient deprived source. After extracting the interstitial fluid from the mice. They used a mass spectrometric procedure to find out the composition of the fluid. The results showed that the fluid was depleted of many types of amino acids especially the ones which promotes the immunity and cell functioning and those are arginine, tryptophan, and cystine whereas some amino acids like glycine and glutamate which are known to be produced by the cancer cells were still present.
During this investigation, they also observed that the location of the cancer cells is also a factor of having different fluid environment. Because when the investigation moved further and cancer cells from lungs were tested, they had a different environment than the pancreatic cancer cells. And in some cases, there was a slight difference in the fluid according to the genetic makeup. But genes did not have a significant impact on the type of environment.
The scientist has a theory that the surrounding supportive cells are recruited by the cancer cells which makes the environment of that specific cancer type. Now the MIT labs are working making the closest mimic of the fluid, to get the best results of experimental drugs.
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