Mexican student proposes new cancer treatment

Current cancer treatments are too violent for the patients and deteriorate their living conditions

Mexican student proposes new cancer treatment
A scientist doing some tests – Photo: James Peragine/AP
English 27/07/2019 14:58 Diana Lastiri Mexico City Actualizada 14:58
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A student of the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM) proposed to treat liver cancer through a new molecule known as Growth Differentiation Factor 11 (GDF11)

Monserrat Gerardo Ramírez, a student of the Ph.D. in Experimental Biology of the UAM, said that the molecule GDF11 is able to subtract the aggressive characteristics in cells derived from patients with liver cancer.

Through treatment with GDF11, the “capacity of migration and invasion” of the cells is significantly reduced, which represents a potential alternative to metastasis.

In cases of liver cancer, one of the main challenges faced by research is to find specific markers that allow the early detection of the illness to start an efficient treatment.

Hence, the possibility of reducing the aggressiveness of the cells, phenomenon closely related to metastasis, through the molecule GDF11 has been suggested as a tool with tumor-suppressing qualities

In Mexico, because of the diet of the population, liver cancer is the fifth cause of death, and the fourth in the world.


In addition, it is a highly violent condition for which there are not yet efficient methods for its early detection, nor improved therapies.

“One of our objectives is to look for some kind of specific marker that allows us to find [liver cancer] on its early stages to treat it more easily,” which would redound in a better quality of life of the patient.

“The existing treatments – chemo and radiotherapy – have among their secondary effects the deterioration of the living conditions of the patients, reason why we’re looking for specific therapeutic options,” detailed the student.

The project developed in the Cellular Physiology Lab of the Department of Health Sciences of the campus Iztapalapa, under the direction of doctors Luis Enrique Gómez Quiroz and María Concepción Gutiérrez Ruiz, discovered that GDF11 lessens many of the issues caused by advanced cancer, especially the processes of invasion and growth of the tumor.

The GDF11 is a natural protein of the human body whose production diminishes with aging, reason why its reincorporation to the system produces effects like the ones mentioned in the study.

The molecule is in charge of reducing – through a mechanism dependent on the molecular route known as Smad – the characteristics that form the tumor, so that they are less aggressive, reason why there is confidence that by causing the reduction of the growth process, the repercussions of the GDF11 could be used along with the current treatments in the future, but with much less violence for the patient.


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