It seems so, but the road is all uphill!
Literally, the term aneuploidy refers to a change in the number of chromosomes in a cell. Therefore, it is a chromosomal abnormality and does not primarily affect cancer cells.
EXAMPLES OF ANEUPLOID CELLS
A cell literally undergoes the variation of the usual number of chromosomes in the case of aneuploidy and this process can occur in several ways:
- Meiosis / Mitosis: we are well aware that “errors” such as the loss or acquisition of one or more chromosomes can occur during the cellular reproduction process.
- Translocation: chromosomes “play” in the exchange of genetic information during cell division and it could happen that (especially in the case of acrocentric chromosomes – for humans 13, 14, 15, 21, and 22) a fusion of two chromosomes that divide the same centromere. A very complicated description to say that the mature cell that undergoes such a translocation has, in fact, one less chromosome.
- Tumors: more or less recent scientific studies show that cancer cells are aneuploid, so they degenerate in all their characteristics. However, the rate of aneuploidy of these cells is directly related to the type of tumor.
- Healthy Cells: Incredibly, there are healthy cells like the liver that show aneuploidy. The phenomenon continues to be the subject of scientific studies.
When mitosis, meiosis, or translocation aneuploidy occurs, there are effects on the individual presenting it. These are pathologies such as trisomies, the so-called Down, Edward, and Patau syndromes; but also of pathologies linked to the sex chromosomes such as Turner, Klinefelter, and Triple X syndrome. In most cases of aneuploidy, however, spontaneous abortions occur in pregnant women.
Cancer cells, as we have specified, are almost always aneuploid. In particular, the data reveal that, in 90% of solid tumors and in 70% of liquids, this condition occurs: the number of chromosomes is different from 46.
This happens for a very simple reason: in the case of a tumor cell, the Check Points of the cell cycle have gone “crazy” and each of the phenomena that would allow the normal course of cell life to be deregulated. For example, the cancer cell, precisely on the basis of this imbalance, produces a greater amount of growth factors (which then help it in its proliferative purpose).
THE NEW DISCOVERIES
The Department of Human Molecular Genetics at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with two Italian researchers from the European Institute of Oncology, has succeeded in recreating, for the first time, libraries of aneuploid cells grown in vitro.
After doing this and comparing the data from the cancer cell study, the researchers realized that the key would be SAC.
The SAC is a complex mechanism that is part of the famous cellular Check Points that we talked about earlier. In particular, the SAC is concerned with the transition of the cell between metaphase and anaphase during its reproduction.
Under normal conditions, when the SAC is operational, cells with an unbalanced chromosome number are destined to be killed. However, when the cell is transformed now, it is the SAC that releases its diseased daughters into our body. Here, based on exciting new findings published in the journal Nature, a new frontier in the fight against cancer opens SAC inhibitors.
The production of a drug is not something that happens overnight and, unfortunately, it will be a long time before we can have truly usable options in therapy.
But knowing that a concrete treatment path has finally been opened is encouraging and reassuring for us and the scientific community.