cancer cells are persistent, possessing the vexatious aptitude to develop resistance to current treatments and making the illness hugely challenging to treat. However, an exciting new study may have identified cancer’s weak spot; the detection has already led to the near-eradication of the illness in cell cultures.
In the cell nucleus, DNA is enfolded around proteins called histones. Together they form chromatin.
Chromatin’s job is to package the hereditary code gracefully into the cell’s nucleus. Chromatin can also regulate which genes are switched on and off. In cancer cells, however, chromatin helps them to evolve and adapt to cancer therapies, thereby allowing them to survive.
“If you think of genetics as hardware,” explains study co-author Vadim Backman, of the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, “then chromatin is the software.”
“Complex illnesses such as cancer,” he adds, “do not depend on the conduct of separate genes, but on the complex interplay among tens of thousands of genetic factor.”
So, Backman and his colleagues set their sights on chromatin as the key to fighting cancer drug confrontation, and an imaging technique they developed last year helped them to learn more about this intricate set of macromolecules.
Predicting cancer cell death with chromatin
The new method is called Partial Wave Spectroscopic (PWS) microscopy, and it allows real-time nursing of chromatin in living cells.
Moreover, the researchers explain that PWS allows them to assess chromatin at a length scale of 20–200 nanometers, which they say is the precise point at which cancer creation effects chromatin.
They used PWS to monitor chromatin in cultured cancer cells. They found that chromatin has a specific “packing density” related with gene look that helps cancer cells to evade treatments.